Seven Muslims Kicked out of Laguna Beach Cafe #HummusHaters
With all the anti-Arab bashing we see in the news every week, Arab America is determined to expose those who discriminate against our community. We will recognize those who vilify the positive influence and contributions Arabs have made to the fabric of American society. And we will use hummus as our weapon. By naming those who vilify the Arab American community as #HummusHaters, we can express our culture positively while showing intolerance to bigotry.
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Laguna Beach, California is a city most known for the over-the-top high school drama “reality” show that aired on MTV years ago. The city has since moved on from the tales of Laguna Beach, but the drama has definitely stayed. In this unfolding edition of #HummusHaters, there are a few plot twists, with more expected in the coming weeks.
On April 22, seven Arab American Muslim women, six of whom wear hijabs, were enjoying pizza, pie, and coffee at the Urth Caffe in Orange County when they were escorted out of the restaurant by police officers. According to Urth Caffe, the women had violated the 45-minute stay policy during what the eatery deems “peak times.” This week, the women decided to sue Urth Caffe for kicking them out of the restaurant for being Muslim.
That night at 8:00 pm, the manager approached the table, asking the women if they were waiting for more orders. At 8:15 pm, the same manager said he was expecting a busy night and needed to clear tables for new guests. Around the same time, fellow customers showed support for the women who didn’t understand why they were being asked to leave. Shortly after, the manager called the police. Two officers arrived and escorted the women out of the cafe after they paid the bill. The women were not even done eating.
What’s suspicious about this story is that there were plenty of empty tables available, according to one plaintiff, Sara Farsakh, as well as one of the police officer’s escorting them out. Additionally, no other people were asked to leave during these “peak times” when the cafe was allegedly too busy to let customers sit and eat.
Fellow Orange County residents were shocked to hear about this story because so many American Muslims live there and they consider their city a welcoming place. The menu at Urth Caffe is clearly inspired by Arab and Mediterranean foods because it touts items like hummus, tabouli, olives, and even grape leaves, so it is unclear why they would have an issue with American Muslim customers.
However, on May 5, Urth Caffe decided to countersue the Muslim patrons by hiring an outspoken, anti-Muslim lawyer, giving more legitimacy to the discrimination claims. The lawyer Urth Caffe hired is David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center, who has been dubbed the “father of the anti-Sharia law movement” in the U.S. for his advocacy in trying to pass laws combatting the imaginary threat of Sharia takeover in the U.S.
That’s not all, though. Yerushalmi has represented the bigoted, Quran-burning Florida pastor, Terry Jones, who has made many headlines for his arrests and Islamophobia. Yerushalmi has also represented Pam Geller, co-founder of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) hate group that’s been staining America since 2010. Lastly, he serves as counsel for the Center for Security Policy, which is a widely discredited think tank because of its baseless “research” on jihadist threats to the country.
If that’s not enough, Yerushalmi is also the principal of Stop the Madrassa – a coalition that was founded to stop the opening of New York’s Khalil Gibran International Academy because it teaches “Arabic history, culture and language.” For his detestable work, Yerushalmi is included in The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.”
Of all the lawyers in the U.S. Urth Caffe could have asked for representation, it chose one that is outright anti-Muslim. That’s not helping Urth Caffe’s argument that they were not acting based on discrimination.
Urth Caffe may say they love hummus and put it on the menu, but it must not be very good hummus. Urth Caffe, its anti-Muslim manager, and their legal representative, David Yerushalmi, are all #HummusHaters in this juicy story. To the Arab Americans and Muslims of Orange Country, please continue to inspire restaurant menus to include Arab food because a few more people in Laguna Beach need to try some quality hummus.