(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/30/12) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today asked the Shreveport Police Department to investigate whether officers facilitated violation of the law by failing to assist a Louisiana Muslim allegedly locked out of a SUBWAY sandwich shop in that state because of his faith.
Yesterday, CAIR called on the SUBWAY restaurant chain to apologize to the Muslim customer.
SUBWAY, based in Milford, Conn., responded to CAIR's request with a letter that stated in part:
"Thank you for bringing your concerns about one of our franchised locations to our attention. We do not condone discriminatory behavior of any kind and take all comments about our franchisees and brand seriously. Since all SUBWAY restaurants are independently owned and operated we have asked the regional office to fully investigate the claims. We will continue to monitor this investigation and work toward a speedy resolution."
A retired 63-year-old U.S. citizen of South Asian heritage who lives in New Orleans reported to CAIR that on November 21, 2012, he and his wife stopped at the SUBWAY restaurant in Shreveport, La. Before ordering, they went to the restrooms in the facility. The husband exited the restroom first and went outside the restaurant to wait for his wife in anticipation of re-entering to order their food.
While his wife was still inside the restaurant, the victim attempted to re-enter, but was blocked at the door by a female SUBWAY employee who allegedly asked him "Are you Muslim?" When the victim replied that he is indeed Muslim, the SUBWAY employee reportedly responded, "We can't serve you." The employee then went inside the restaurant and locked the door behind her. Fearing for his wife's safety and distraught at the violation of his civil rights, the man called 911.
When the Shreveport Police Department arrived, an officer went inside the SUBWAY restaurant and later came out to tell the victim that the manager was "scared" of him and that he "better leave."
In a letter to Shreveport Police Department Chief Willie L. Shaw, Jr., CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
"It is truly disturbing that a member of the Shreveport Police Department may have facilitated the violation of state and federal laws protecting the right to public accommodation.
"We therefore request that you investigate this troubling incident and take appropriate action based on the results of that investigation."
Louisiana Revised Statutes 51:2247 states that it is a "discriminatory practice for a person to deny an individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement, as defined in this Chapter, on the grounds of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, disability, as defined in R.S. 51:2232(11), or national origin."
According to the law, a place of public accommodation "means any place, store, or other establishment, either licensed or unlicensed, which supplies goods or services to the general public."
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on account of religion in places of public accommodation and service.
A copy of the letter was sent to SUBWAY, the governor and attorney general of Louisiana, state elected officials, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org