A group of Muslim women were kicked out of an ultra-chic Laguna Beach, California cafe last weekend when an employee “asked them to leave” without reason — but not before calling police.
Sara Farsakh and her friends, who were all wearing hijab headscarves, were sitting at the popular LA chain Urth Caffe, which specialize in feel-good teas and “natural” foods.
According to Farsakh, the group was only seated for a few minutes, far below the posted 45-minute time limit policy for tables in place in case the restaurant needs to make room, and had just ordered their drinks before being asked to leave.
Farsakh said in a Facebook posting that the whole incident happened because she and her friends are Muslims.
“I am completely appalled by the racist and Islamophobic treatment some friends and I were subjected to by staff at Urth Caffé in Laguna Beach last night,” Farsakh wrote. “What began as a night out with some friends ended as a painful and embarrassing reminder of what it is like to be visibly Muslim—even in liberal California. By visibly Muslim, I mean women who wear the hijab, or headscarf.”
According to OC Weekly, the Laguna Beach Police Department said that police were called by the cafe’s manager about “12 women refusing to leave the property.” Officers say that the women who were asked to leave were very nice, cooperative and still had their desserts and coffees on their tables.
“A business can refuse service if they want,” says Sergeant Kleiser, Laguna Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer. “We usually advise people to cooperate first and deal with the issue later.”
OC Weekly said that Farsakh’s case is being taken up by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles.
“CAIR-LA is investigating the matter and is very concerned about the possible bias motive involved in this incident in wake of recent events in which Muslims were kicked off a plane or refused service simply for allegedly being Muslim,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director, Hussam Ayloush.
“No customer should have to face the humiliation of being kicked out or refused service if they are compliant with the business’ policies. Public spaces, such as restaurants, are prohibited from applying a business policy that denies access to services in a discriminatory manner.”
Featured image via lagunabeat.com