When a group of Former Muslims tried to hand out educational literature at a Houston Hilton Starbucks they were summarily removed and threatened with arrest.
The young people adorned T-shirts that read, “I’m an Ex-Muslim, Ask Me Why.” They tried to exercise their right to free speech at an annual Muslim conference hosted at the Hilton known as the Islamic Society of North America.
What seems astonishing is that the volunteers from Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) were neither protesting nor handing out flyers when they were accosted. They were simply sitting in the hotel’s Starbucks drinking iced coffee they had purchased.
“You’re not allowed on the property,” the Hilton manager was filmed saying. When the EXMNA patrons asked why they were being banned from the Starbucks, the Hilton manager reportedly said, “You’re not allowed. You’ve got shirts right now.”
Despite explaining the volunteers were not part of any protest, the Hilton manager told them it didn’t matter. After leaving peacefully, the Hilton manager continued to berate the ex-Muslims.
“If you come on my property, you will be arrested for trespassing,” the manager reportedly said.
“I was surprised,” an EXMNA volunteer reportedly said. “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 protestors at the property, I assured the woman that I was not a protestor. 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,” the EXMNA reportedly said. “However, I noticed the Starbucks was still open to the public and I didn’t see anyone else being asked to leave.”
It seems ironic that the Starbucks brand recently closed stores nationwide after a discrimination incident. A Philadelphia location had two black men arrested while waiting for a guest to join them. They had already been denied access to the restaurant’s restroom. The racial sensitivity training and policies the corporation’s employees underwent due to bias apparently hasn’t been extended to host hotels such the Hilton.
Ex-Muslims of North America Pres. Mohammad Syed says the removal and threats against the organization’s volunteers wreaks of religious discrimination.
“This appears to be a case of discrimination,” Syed reportedly 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.”
Officials at the Houston Hilton have since released the following statement that departs from the ex-Muslims account of the events to some degree.
“As a place of public accommodation, the Hilton Houston Americas does not discriminate against any individual or group. Our goal is to provide quality accommodations, and a safe and welcoming environment for all who visit our hotel.”
“On Saturday, September 1st, a large event and related protests occurred at the George R. Brown Convention Center, adjacent to our hotel. In an environment of heightened security, our team spoke with multiple protestors [sic] at the doors of and inside our hotel. Anyone who was not a confirmed guest was politely asked to leave the hotel.”
“We are concerned by claims made since by the Ex-Muslims of North America. Their group was initially welcomed to the hotel and purchased coffee at the outlet inside the hotel. They were approached by our team some time later as they began setting up camera equipment in the hotel lobby, and were asked to leave only after they confirmed that they were not hotel guests. The group left without incident, but returned 17 minutes later attempting to reenter the hotel.”
“We respect the right of all parties to express their points of view in a lawful and non-disruptive way. We reject any suggestion that the group’s religious beliefs (past or present) played a part in them being asked to leave our hotel. Our team’s focus was always on maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for our paying guests.”
While the Hilton’s recollection of the events almost mirrors that of the ex-Muslim volunteers, it would have seemed more logical to tell the group they could not set up camera equipment rather than expel them.
What remains concerning is the fact that the ex-Muslims were dealt with harshly while peacefully going about their business.
Would practicing Muslims be treated as severely? That’s a question everyday Americans should be concerned about.
~ Christian Patriot Daily