Volunteers from an organisation called Ex-Muslims of North America claim they were “forcibly expelled” from a Starbucks within a Hilton hotel in Texas after they refused to remove their shirts declaring their apostasy from Islam.
The volunteers, who were wearing t-shirts that read ‘I’m an Ex-Muslim, Ask Me Why’ were in the area handing out flyers and speaking with attendees of a conference held by the Islamic Society of North America.
One of the volunteers was Lina, a Syrian woman who had traveled to the conference on behalf of the organisation.
“I was surprised,” Lina said in a statement. “I was simply drinking my iced coffee and scrolling through my phone, and they told me I needed to leave, so I asked why.”
“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,” she said.
“I was then told that even though I was a paying customer, I was not allowed to be on the premises 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.”
Hotel employees then informed the group that they could only re-enter the premises if they removed their shirts.
“The treatement was unjust and especially cruel considering the plight of ex-Muslims,” Muhammad Syed, President of Ex-Muslims of North America said. “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.”
Armin Navabi, an Irani activist who was also in the area on behalf of the organisation said, “Our goal was to see how tolerant Muslims can be, to our delight, we found many Muslims were tolerant. On the other hand, we found that many Westerners were intolerant. It seems that ‘saviors’ of Muslims are more sensitive about anything that could potentially offend Muslims than Muslims are themselves.”