Wegmans Food Markets grocery chain has apologized after a Virginia store denied a request by an Ex-Muslims group for a cake celebrating the group's anniversary.
According to the organization’s website, Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) “advocates for acceptance of religious dissent, promotes secular values, and aims to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.” The group emailed the Fairfax, Virginia, Wegmans in May requesting a custom cake with the organization’s name and logo, congratulating the group on its three-year anniversary.
It was then, the group says, that a store associate refused to provide the cake, calling the request “offensive.” According to a press release by EXMNA, the group says they were told by the associate that the store has Muslim employees, and while they didn’t know if the cake would cause offense, they were unwilling to “put them in that situation.”
Muhammad Syed, president of EXMNA, said he was “shocked” by the store’s actions. In the press release, he said that he did not consider the cake design offensive, and added, “we have every right to exist and be proud of who we are, and we won’t back down.”
EXMNA reached out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit, who stepped in to put pressure on Wegmans at the national level.
FFRF’s press release on the subject said the store’s actions raise “serious concerns under federal, state and local civil rights laws,” and that “even setting aside the legalities, the chain’s discrimination is plain wrong.”
FFRF said it would ask Wegmans to apologize, offer the cake without charge, and “educate its employees on their duty to serve patrons without discrimination.”
Wegmans has since apologized for the incident on its Twitter account. In multiple follow-up replies, the company said it would address the problem with the store and customer, and stated, “We should have made the cake.” Apart from the tweets, the company has declined to comment on the issue.