A group of women are considering legal action after they were kicked out of a chic California cafe last weekend for being Muslim.
In a Facebook post shared last Sunday, that has been shared thousands of times, Sara Farsakh accused staff at Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach, California of treating her and her friends with bias because they were wearing hijabs.
“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,” Farsakh wrote. “By visibly Muslim, I mean women who wear the hijab, or headscarf.”
According to Farsakh, she and her friends arrived at Urth Caffe on Saturday around 7:15pm and sat at a table outside. Their food arrived 20 or 30 minutes later. After they were done with their meals some in the group went to the counter to order coffee and dessert.
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“At about 8pm, an employee, Tino, came to our table and told us that we needed to leave the restaurant within the next 10 minutes,” Farsakh wrote.
“Tino explained that they were anticipating a busy evening and needed to clear tables and that per their policy anyone that had been there for over 45 minutes was required to share or give up their table to other customers.”
The Urth Caffe policy in question states: “During our busy rush times, if you have already been at a table for 45 minutes or longer, please share or give your table to someone who is waiting. If tables are available, you are certainly welcome to enjoy Urth for as long as you desire.”
According to Farsakh, there were plenty of open tables both inside and outside the restaurant, she shared in a video which as been viewed over 250,000 times on Facebook.
“We told Tino that our orders had just arrived and that we couldn’t reasonably finish and leave within 10 minutes,” she wrote. “He said it didn’t matter and we had to leave.”
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“The party on the table next to us [a group of white women] overheard our conversation and were shocked,” Farsakh said, adding, “They told us they had been sitting far longer than we had but had never been told to prepare to leave.”
According to a statement from CAIR on Tuesday, another group of women had been sitting at their table for nearly 4 hours and had not been asked to leave.
However, the cafe’s staff insisted, and even called the police. Two police officers arrived at the café, reports OC Weekly.
Shallom Berkman, told Los Angeles television station KABC, “Everybody wants an outside seat. We have this policy to make things fair and accommodate everyone who wants to enjoy Urth Caffe.”
Further, the café owner added that the women were not asked to leave because they are Muslim. “My wife is Muslim and I’m Jewish,” Berkman said. “We like to say we’re a sign of world peace.”
“We’re very sorry that she has this feeling that this was something racist, but that is just not the case,” he added.
Berkman also said he’s offering Farsakh and her friends a free meal.
The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is investigating the matter according to Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter.
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“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.”
Ayloush added, “No customer should have to face the humiliation of being kicked out or refused service if they are compliant with the business’ policies.”
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.
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