Chobani founder is accused of trying to 'choke' the US with Muslims

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The founder of the Greek yogurt company Chobani has been thrust into a vitriolic debate over the European migrant crisis, and now he and his supporters are being targeted with death threats as a result.

Hamdi Ulukaya, who is a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, employs more than 300 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and other countries in his factories in New York and Twin Falls, Idaho, The New York Times' David Gelles reports.

He has also founded an organization supporting refugees called Tent.

Ulukaya's support of refugees went relatively unnoticed until January, when he gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, encouraging other companies to help refugees.

Following his speech, the far-right website WND published a story titled "American Yogurt Tycoon Vows to Choke U.S. With Muslims," the Times reports.

More on the Chobani founder

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Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya
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Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 19: Founder/chairman/CEO of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, speaks onstage during 'Letter from Chobani: A Culture of Sharing' at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Chobani founder and Chief Executive Hamdi Ulukaya attends the CEO Roundtable at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 20, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Chobani products at The MOMS Host a Private Champagne Toast Celebrating their New York Family Cover at One Hundred Barclay on August 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Chobani products at The MOMS Host a Private Champagne Toast Celebrating their New York Family Cover at One Hundred Barclay on August 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Chobani Inc. founder Hamdi Ulukaya poses for a portrait in the company headquarters in New York, December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)
Chobani Inc. founder Hamdi Ulukaya poses for a portrait in the company headquarters in New York, December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, takes part in a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2012 photo, Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. Public schools across America will soon offer Greek yogurt as a meat substitute in school lunches beginning this fall. Chobani, a manufacturer of Greek yogurt, officials announced Monday, June 29, 2015, it had been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to supply the yogurt as part of the federal school lunch program. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)
An Agro-Farma Inc. employee inspects containers filled with Chobani Inc. yogurt at a facility in New Berlin, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Agro-Farma Inc. manufactures dairy products, including nonfat and low fat yogurt in various flavors, and offers its products through stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Photographer: Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Agro-Farma Inc. employees prepare to ship cases of yogurt at a facility in New Berlin, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Agro-Farma Inc. manufactures dairy products, including nonfat and low fat yogurt in various flavors, and offers its products through stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Photographer: Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Agro-Farma Inc. employees prepare to ship cases of yogurt at a facility in New Berlin, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Agro-Farma Inc. manufactures dairy products, including nonfat and low fat yogurt in various flavors, and offers its products through stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Photographer: Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An Agro-Farma Inc. employee inspects containers filled with Chobani Inc. yogurt at a facility in New Berlin, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Agro-Farma Inc. manufactures dairy products, including nonfat and low fat yogurt in various flavors, and offers its products through stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Photographer: Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Then the conservative website Breitbart News began running a series of negative stories on Chobani and Ulukaya.

The stories tied Chobani's hiring of refugees to two rape cases in Idaho, as well as to a spike in Tuberculosis in the state. Another said the company has "deep ties" to the Clinton campaign. We've found no evidence to support these claims.

The articles have inspired boycott threats, hate speech, and death threats targeting Chobani, Ulukaya, and even the mayor of Twin Falls, Idaho, who supports Chobani. Many of the threats are coming from supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to Business Insider's analysis of the hashtag "boycott Chobani" that has been trending on Twitter.

"It got woven into a narrative that it's all a cover-up, that we're all trying to keep the refugees safe so that Chobani has its work force, that I personally am getting money from the Obama administration to help Chobani hire whoever they want, that it's part of this Islamification of the United States," Twin Falls mayor Shawn Barigar told The New York Times. "It's crazy."

Chobani didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here's a sample of what Chobani's critics are saying on Twitter.



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