Muslim women kicked out of California restaurant sue for discrimination

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Source: The Guardian

By  in San Francisco

Seven Muslim women who were kicked out of a southern California restaurant are suing the business for discrimination, alleging that they were singled out for wearing headscarves in an area that advocates say has seen an increase in hate crimes.

The women, six of whom were wearing hijabs, say they were ordered to leave Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach on 22 April, ostensibly because they were violating a policy limiting seating to 45 minutes – even though video they took as they were exiting shows that there were open tables throughout the restaurant.

The business, which is located near the beach in Orange County, was half empty at the time, and other non-Muslim women seated far longer than the Muslim women were not asked to leave, according to the lawsuit filed this week.

After the women protested, management at the restaurant, which boasts “organic coffees and fine teas”, allegedly called its security guard and eventually local police to force the women to leave.

“I cried the whole way home,” Sara Farsakh, 29, said in an interview. “I was just so shocked and hurt by what happened.”

Farsakh posted a Facebook video showing many empty tables, along with footage of the police who showed up to escort them out.

“I am completely appalled by the racist and Islamophobic treatment some friends and I were subjected to by staff at Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach last night,” shewrote on Facebook after the incident. “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.”

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