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One Direction's Zayn Malik tweets #FreePalestine, receives death threats

Zayn Malik arrives at the BRIT Awards 2014

Zayn Malik arrives at the BRIT Awards 2014 at the O2 Arena in London on Feb. 19, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Joel Ryan

One Direction member Zayn Malik has generated a flurry of responses, from agreement to death threats, after posting the Twitter message #FreePalestine on Sunday.

While no overt threats appeared visible on his Twitter feed Monday afternoon, the UK newspaper The Independent said some commenters had urged him to kill himself or to let them kill him.

Others ranged from apolitical fan support ("Zayn got real fans who [will] never hate him bc of a tweet") to vociferous commentary on both sides of the hot-button issue.

Malik, 21 -- who grew up in northern England's West Yorkshire county, the son of an English-Pakistani father and an English mother -- was raised in a Muslim family. His Twitter page has 13 million followers, and this tweet, his latest as of Monday afternoon, has been retweeted and favorited 180,000 times each.

The hashtag #FreePalestine has been tweeted more than two million times in the past month, according to BBC News, including by several other celebrities.

On July 15, pop star Rihanna posted the phrase, only to delete it minutes later after a backlash. She replaced it with a photo of an Arab boy and an Israeli boy clasping each other's shoulders in friendship.

Selena Gomez on July 18 posted an Instagram image reading, "It's about humanity. Pray for Gaza." After her post prompted heated commentary, she wrote the next day, "And of course to be clear, I am not picking any sides. I am praying for peace and humanity for all!"

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