- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Virginia yoga studio has received a wave of backlash after offering Sept. 11th-inspired discounts.

“9+11 = 20% OFF! PATRIOT DAY SALE on Bikram Yoga,” Bikram Arlington tweeted Thursday in commemoration of the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, WTOP reported.

The online promotion said, “Freedom Isn’t Free — And we intend to honor those patriots who have died for our country and morn [sic] the loss of freedom of speech and other rights that died that day.”

The reaction was swift on Twitter, with people calling the studio’s promotion “disgusting” and in “poor taste.” The owner and her husband have apologized, but only after offering excuses and conspiracy theories, comparing the backlash to the scandal surrounding ex-NFL player Ray Rice and refusing to invalidate the promotion.

“The goal was to point out what date it was and associate to patriotism and to remember it. It’s a shame some of you go to the negative,” the studio tweeted.

“If you want to be upset, research the term ‘911 building 7’ and check the news, because they are hearing ‘chatter’ about us getting hit again,” they wrote.

In an interview with The Washington Post, owner Zahra Vaezi, 33, said, “I didn’t realize people would be so ‘roar,’ you know?”

“It’s like that man who punched his wife,” she said, referring to Mr. Rice. “I mean, that’s upsetting. But I think it kind of gets blown out of proportion.”

Ms. Vaezi said that her husband, Frank Machnick, came up with the idea. She maintained that her tweets were due to “yoga brain.”

“Have you ever done hot yoga?” Ms. Vaezi asked, The Post reported. “It’s such an intense practice that you get put into this Zen. You just feel really Zen and peaceful and great. … You might go and just drive off and not pay attention to all of your surroundings like you should.”

Bikram Arlington will not be removing the promotion.

“It’s offensive, yes, and I’m sorry. I’m not trying to incite emotion. I just love yoga,” she said. “It is still Patriot Day. And I feel like if I do take [the discount] off, I would be saying there’s something wrong with it being Patriot Day.”

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