Controversy sparked by a recent incident in northern France reminds people all over the world that restaurants do not have the right to use race, religion or any other cultural factor as reason to deny service to customers.
On Aug. 28, the owner of a restaurant in Tremblay-en-France told two women wearing hijabs, “Terrorists are Muslims and all Muslims are terrorists,” after refusing to serve them, according to BBC News.
One of the women filmed the dispute, secretly. The video, which has been leaked on various social media platforms, recorded one of the women saying, “We don’t want to be served by racists.”
To this, the owner of the restaurant said, “Racists don’t kill people.” He added, “I don't want people like you at my place.”
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The video has sparked outrage among viewers all over the world and within France’s borders.
The restaurant owner, who has been accused of Islamophobia, said, “I spoke out of turn and I apologize,” according to the Independent. He added, “I have a friend who died in the Bataclan attacks and wrongly mixed everything up. I do not truly believe the things I said, my comments did not reflect what I really think.”
Although France has been the site of terror attacks during the summer of 2016, owners of public establishments do not have the right to deny access to Muslims.
Unfortunately, the terror attacks have brought about a heightened sense of fear in France, demonstrating the reality and ignorance of Islamophobia that exists in the world today.
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Just two days before the incident at the Tremblay-en-France restaurant, French officials lifted a ban on burkinis, full-length bathing suits that cover all parts of a woman’s body except for the face, hands and feet. Burkinis are most commonly worn by Muslim women.
BBC also reports that mayors of some towns in France are still pushing the ban, despite official rulings to end the racial profiling.
Subjective entry into restaurants encourages ignorance, and must not be tolerated anywhere in the world.
The United States is not free from similar acts of discrimination. In April 2014, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant passed a law permitting restaurants to deny service to gay couples, reports The Washington Post.
In Connecticut, the owner of an IHOP Restaurant was accused of racial discrimination for denying service to a Muslim family in March 2015, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. The family is suing the restaurant.
Race, sexual preference and religion should not matter when a customer chooses to spend money at a restaurant. Abusing power as a restaurant owner by stating that certain people do not have the right to eat somewhere is wrong, and sends us back in history.
No shirts, no shoes, no service? Sure. Nothing else should matter.