Seven Muslim women are suing the Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach, California, for discrimination, claiming that they were forced to leave the restaurant because six of them were wearing hijabs. The restaurant claims it had asked the women to leave because the group had violated a restaurant policy that limits seating to 45 minutes. The women claim that non-Muslim women who were seated there for longer had not been asked to leave, and a cellphone video of the incident shows the restaurant was half-empty at the time of the incident. After they protested, the women were forced out by local police. ”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,” 29-year-old student Sara Farsakh wrote on Facebook after the incident. “By visibly Muslim, I mean women who wear the hijab, or headscarf.”
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for the women and alleges that there have been several hate crimes against Muslims at the restaurant (including throwing eggs, slashing tires and the shouting of racial epithets) by people who are upset about the increased presence of Muslims in the community. The restaurant has denied all claims of discrimination, saying that it hopes “customers will withhold judgment until all of the evidence in this case comes to light.” Farsakh, the lone woman in the group who was not wearing a hijab on the night in question — in part because of her fear of discrimination — told The Guardian the increasingly hostile political climate was part of their motivation to file a lawsuit. “I shouldn’t have to be concerned about my mother, my mother-in-law, my friends, and future daughters,” she said. “It’s unacceptable for anybody to have to go through this based off of the way that they look.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.