A Starbucks in Houston ejected paying customers for wearing T-shirts stating “I’m an Ex-Muslim, Ask Me Why.”
The message apparently conflicted with the Islamic Society of North America conference that was going on nearby.
A group called Ex-Muslims of North America said its volunteers were “forcibly expelled” from a Starbucks within a Hilton hotel in Houston “after refusing to change out of T-shirts stating, ‘Love is Greatest’ and ‘I’m an Ex-Muslim, Ask Me Why.'”
They were taking a coffee break after handing out flyers and speaking with people attending the ISNA event nearby.
“I was surprised. I was simply drinking my iced coffee and scrolling through my phone, and they told me I needed to leave, so I asked why,” Lina, an ex-Muslim Syrian woman who had traveled to the conference on behalf of EXMNA, said in the statement.
“I was told that they are not allowing protesters at the property, I assured the woman that I was not a protester. She then asked me if I was part of the event or a guest at the hotel. I was neither. I was then told that even though I was a paying customer, I was not allowed to be on the premise as it was reserved for guests and event members for the weekend and that they will not be allowing anyone else on their private property. However, I noticed the Starbucks was still open to the public and I didn’t see anyone else being asked to leave.”
A video shows the group members being told their shirts were the problem.
The president of the group, Muhammad Syed, said: “We were asked to leave the premises and informed that we could only enter the premises if we removed the shirts, none of which stated anything inflammatory. The treatment was unjust and especially cruel considering the plight of ex-Muslims. We are killed and abused all over the world for our disbelief. It is unconscionable that companies like Starbucks and Hilton acquiesce to conservative religious sensibilities.”
“I certainly didn’t expect to be discriminated against on American soil by the Hilton staff for refusing to be closeted about my ex-Muslim identity,” added Hazar, a former Muslim from Syrian.
“It was important for me to represent ex Muslims at ISNA because we are some of the lucky few that are able to do so with minimal consequences in comparison to those of us who aren’t privileged enough to live in a democratic society.”
The manager said: “You’re not allowed on the property.”
When asked why, he reiterated: “Because you’re not allowed. You’ve got shirts right now.”
When pressed again, the manager explained: “There’s a protest going on. You can if you take your shirts off, whatever.”
Lina responded, “Why does my shirt offend you?”
The manager shot back, “This is private property!”
A commentary at PJ Media said: “While this video was bad enough, it did not present the whole story. Lina was attempting to re-enter the Starbucks after getting booted, even though she had purchased a drink.”
Added the commentary: “Wait, paying customers at Starbucks were asked to leave, because they had T-shirts expressing their religious identity? This doesn’t sound like the United States of America.”