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Here's How A Cafe Sign And A Facebook Post Pissed Off Australia

"Send these A-holes to set up their coffee shop in the middle of Syria!!"

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A blackboard sign in a beachside cafe has sparked online controversy for its "anti-Australia Day" message.

Facebook: MeanwhileInAustralia

The sign was put out a day before Australia Day on January 25 at Mister Jones Espresso Bar in Bermagui, and was first uploaded to the hugely successful Facebook page Meanwhile in Australia.

In the days that followed, the post got thousands of likes and over 3,000 shares. The admin for the page told BuzzFeed News they uploaded the photo because they were upset with the statement.

"I live locally and was upset that the two men who own the business had the audacity to put that statement out the front of their business the day before Australia Day," she said.

However, the photo was eventually picked up by another Facebook page: Aussie Infidels. Aussie Infidels has a much smaller, but still active and engaged audience than Meanwhile In Australia.

Facebook: Aussie

The page mostly shares anti-Islamic content, as well as news stories about military veterans getting in fights with foreigners and posts insisting the Australian government ban the burqa. They took the image of the sign and encouraged their 10,000-strong audience to give bad reviews to the Mister Jones cafe on Tripadvisor.

It is alleged that the Aussie Infidels Facebook page noticed Mister Jones Coffee had closed their account, and took it upon themselves to make another page called "Mister Jones Coffee Shop" which they used to share their content.

Facebook: misterjonesespresso

One of those posts featured a photo of both the cafe's owners with the caption "here are two good reasons for birth control" above their heads. It also encouraged people to leave "feedback" on the Mister Jones Facebook or on Tripadvisor.

The admin for Meanwhile in Australia said she had "no associations" with the Aussie Infidels page, and that she felt bad about the reactions to the sign. "He left himself open to public scrutiny by putting the sign up in the first place," she said.

Facebook: permalink.php

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the owner of Mister Jones said he was shocked at the amount of abuse he had received.

"Over the last days, messages have been cascading through my email account, containing unprintable abuse and describing group plans for physical attacks," he said.

"My voicemail account has mercifully reached capacity and I've long stopped listening to the graphic and explicit death threats. These messages have been much more chilling than the thousands posted online."

"The provocative blackboard seems innocuous now, entirely disproportionate to the scale of the hatred. Indeed, taken on face value, the blackboard was possibly the most

Australian thing that one could write about 'Australia Day', in a country that claims to be

proud of its 'larrikin' irreverence and self-effacing humour. However, in the few moments that it was displayed, the sign lifted a rock from under which so many interesting things have crawled."

He also pointed out that his sign had no intention of singling out any individuals, and that his regular customers rallied around him when he opened for business on Australia Day.

"My blackboard's message was addressed to no one in particular. Arguably, it offended those who experienced a moment of self-recognition. As these individuals continue to over-react, the sign only becomes truer. The shoe clearly fit, and they wore it."

"Many of the online comments gloated over what they saw as my inevitable loss of

business and the demise of my espresso bar. These groups and individuals threatened

vandalism, arson, murder, mass violence and also threatened those who chose not to

boycott. Mainstream media have also been curious about the effect that such

overwhelming social media hatred might have on a small business. On 'Australia Day' morning, the door locks to my business had been drilled out and the windows glued shut. We opened for trade."

"It was our biggest 'Australia Day' crowd on record. Many people travelled from as far as Batemans Bay in the North and Merimbula in the South to drink a coffee and have a laugh. Among these supporters, we were particularly happy to welcome esteemed members from some strong, local, and largely marginalised communities."

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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