Muslims demand anonymity as they sue California café

Several Muslim women who insisted that their identities be concealed in a discrimination lawsuit against a California restaurant, claiming their safety was at risk, have gone on the record anyway by posting comments on social media and granting interviews to television stations.

The target of the suit, Urth Caffe of Laguna Beach, California, is now asking permission of the court to add the full names of the women to the lawsuit and to a counter-suit filed by the restaurant, according to a new filing.

WND reported the case arose after restaurant workers asked, in keeping with restaurant policy, a group of Muslim women to move or share their tables in a popular spot at the eatery on a busy night.

The women responded with a discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant, and the restaurant answered with a counter-suit against the women, charging they were engaging in Islamic “lawfare.”

The women had been asked by restaurant workers to abide by a publicly promoted policy to give up or share popular patio tables after 45 minutes. But they refused and eventually left only after police were called.

The women later obtained a lawyer who claimed they were the subjects of religious discrimination and sued. The restaurant’s responding complaint against them cites trespass.

Now the American Freedom Law Center, which is defending the Urth Caffe, is seeking to add the women’s names to the official documents.

“Based upon plaintiffs’ own discovery responses, five of the plaintiffs, which include three of the four ‘anonymous’ plaintiffs claiming to fear for their safety, have publicly criticized defendants and accused them of bigotry and permitted their pictures to be taken by news outlets,” the new court filing said.

“Indeed, while withheld from plaintiffs’ discovery responses, Urth Caffe located an article from a heavily trafficked website that included Facebook quotes from the fourth ‘anonymous’ plaintiff,” the filing explained.

The filing noted that Sara C. in the original complaint is Sara Chamma, Yumna H. is Yumna Hameed, Safa R. is Safa Rawag and Marwa R. is Marwa Raga.

“It is an odd, if not untenable position, to claim a fear of public exposure while exploiting public exposure to generate a social media firestorm by accusing defendants of being bigots and engaging in illegal discrimination,” explained the filing, which was posted online.

“Indeed … only Urth Caffe employees have been the subject of direct criminal threats, which necessitated the filnig of a criminal report by Urth Caffe management with the FBI and local police and employing armed security to escort employees to their automobiles at night,” said the legal filing in Superior Court in Orange County, California.

The “anonymous” women declined several times to provide their full names, the brief explains, but they or their legal representatives had failed to submit a motion to conceal that information.

The Urth Caffe explained that in California, “as in all states and in the federal courts, there is a First Amendment right held by the public to know who is suing whom and this means there is an obligation to sue in your own name and not hide behind a wall of anonymity.”

“There are exceptions to this rule, but these exceptions require a clear showing of harm to the anonymous plaintiffs that outweighs the public’s right to know.

“In this case, the plaintiffs not only refused to provide their names for the public record, but also refused to provide their names to the defendant Urth Caffe pursuant to a protective order that would have kept the names out of the public domain,” the brief said.

Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi noted four of the seven plaintiffs claimed that their safety would be at risk by disclosing their names.

“However, they could point to no instance of a single threat to their safety nor could they point to a single instance where Muslims had sued for discrimination, and there are plenty of high-profile cases to choose from, where a single Muslim was put in harm’s way as a result of the filing of a lawsuit for discrimination in his or her own name.”

He said Urth Caffe “did not discriminate against the women who have filed this fraudulent lawsuit.”

“The claim that these women were asked to leave the café because they were wearing hijabs is laughable given the number of hijab-wearing Urth Caffe customers. After nearly a year of discovery, the plaintiffs have not produced a shred of evidence of discrimination. Yet, the plaintiffs had no problem holding a press conference naming Urth Caffe and individual staff members and labelling them as bigots. ”

The OC Weekly noted the 45-minute policy is publicly posted by the restaurant.

The policy 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.”

The restaurant called police and had them ask the women to leave when they refused to comply with a manager’s request.

Commentator Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Magazine jumped right to the point in a commentary headlined “Another Muslim ‘minor inconvenience hate’ hoax gets shot down.”

“Actual minorities have hate crimes. Muslims mainly seem to have minor inconveniences. Like the Muslim passenger who was supposedly refused a can of diet coke by the flight attendant… only because she was Muslim. Or the Muslim who allegedly suffered a dirty look. Or were asked to leave a coffee shop after 45 minutes of hogging a table,” he wrote.

“For some reason, this incredibly Islamophobic coffee shop let her and her friends order, sit and hang out for 45 minutes. And then only asked them to leave after 45 minutes. Which is the policy,” said Greenfield. “I’m sure [then-president] Obama will be commenting on this before long. Because tragic minor inconveniences of hate like this cannot and must not be tolerated. Muslims should receive special exemption from all normal rules, whether while flying or at restaurants. The failure to respect Muslim Privilege is itself discriminatory.”

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