A Southern Illinois coroner’s Facebook post about Muslims’ toilet etiquette has ignited a firestorm.
Marion County Coroner Troy Cannon on Tuesday shared a meme on Facebook that showed a bearded man sitting on a toilet, along with the Starbucks coffee logo.
The meme states: “This is a Muslim they don’t use toilet paper they use their hand. This is Starbucks they vow to hire 10,000 Muslims. Enjoy your coffee.”
Attempts to reach Cannon for comment on Wednesday were not successful.
The meme itself is no longer visible on Cannon’s Facebook page, but the dozens of comments about it remained Wednesday morning.
Some commenters took offense. “This is a gross generalization of the Muslim people. You should be ashamed of yourself,” one wrote.
Another, Eric Slater of Salem, wrote: “This is racism. You’re a public servant. I regret my vote.”
Others supported Cannon. One wrote: “He’s providing a public service ... ever hear of E. coli?”
Cannon, in replies to comments, said he served in the military in Iraq and knows about Muslims’ toilet etiquette.
“I only shared something that, from my own experience, is absolutely true, and in response to Starbucks making a very discriminatory, inflammatory announcement,” Cannon wrote. “I don’t ask anyone to agree with me, it’s factually accurate. Sorry you feel disheartened, but the truth is uncomfortable at times.”
Cannon, a Republican, was elected in November to a second four-year term as coroner.
Marion County’s Republican Party Chairman Ben Stratemeyer said Wednesday he had not seen the Facebook post.
“As you described it, it would sound offensive, but I haven’t seen it,” Stratemeyer said. “Some people like bathroom humor. A lot of comedians make a lot of money off bathroom humor — I’ll just leave it at that.”
Hoda Katebi, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, described the meme as very offensive.
“It’s just silly,” Katebi said. “It’s petty. You’d expect more from even a child.”
Islam has practices for toilet hygiene, involving washing with water when using the toilet.
“There’s a practice of cleansing that actually is cleaner than using toilet paper. But it’s not using your hands,” Katebi said.
Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Starbucks on Sunday announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees around the world in 75 countries where it does business, over the next five years.
Marion County Treasurer Patti Hahn, a Democrat, said she hadn’t seen the Facebook post, but she said it sounds offensive.
“Facebook used to be a place where people posted what they were cooking for dinner, or that their kids had soccer. Now it’s getting into this political bashing crap that nobody wants to be a part of,” Hahn said. “Nobody needs that. Nobody wants to read that stuff. Be positive.”