News & Politics

Ex-Muslim Customers Kicked Out of Houston Starbucks for Wearing Ex-Muslim T-Shirts

Former Muslims with Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) were kicked out of a Starbucks connected to a Hilton hotel in Houston, Texas, on Saturday. Video shows Lina, an ex-Muslim Syrian woman, physically barred from re-entering the Starbucks after she had bought an iced coffee and was expelled from the establishment for wearing a t-shirt.

In the video, a Hilton manager came out to prevent Lina from re-entering the Starbucks. At first, he suggested that if the EXMNA volunteer merely removed her t-shirt, she would be admitted. Later, however, he refused to allow her companion to enter the premises, even though he was not wearing an ex-Muslim t-shirt.

“You’re not allowed on the property,” the manager said. 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.”

To this, Lina responded, “Why does my shirt offend you?” He shot back, “This is private property!”

The manger insisted that the EXMNA volunteers were not allowed in Starbucks because they were “part of the protest.” The volunteers were in Houston for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention near the Hilton hotel. A Texas Patriot Network protest against the ISNA convention sparked clashes between protesters and counter-protesters affiliated with antifa, the New Black Panther Party, and other groups, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The EXMNA volunteers explained that they were not part of the protest, but the manager did not listen. He pointed out a clear line on the ground, saying, “If you come on my property, you will be arrested for trespassing.”

At one point, Lina’s companion asked if he might be able to enter the Starbucks, since he did not have an ex-Muslim t-shirt on. The manager refused him.

“Is it your statement that I can’t be on your property because my shirt says I’m an ex-Muslim?” Lina pressed. The manager gave no clear response.

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.

“The EXMNA volunteers were taking a coffee break at the Starbucks after a day of handing out flyers and speaking with and interviewing attendees at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s annual conference,” EXMNA explained in a press release. “Without warning, they were informed by staff that they must leave the establishment.”

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…

“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,” Nina said in a 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,” the ex-Muslim Syrian added. “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 property.”

This “explanation” was a blatant lie. “I noticed the Starbucks was still open to the public and I didn’t see anyone else being asked to leave,” Nina recalled.

“This appears to be a case of discrimination,” Muhammad Syed, president of Ex-Muslims of North America, said in a statement. “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.”

Syed referred to the broader context of attacks on ex-Muslims across the world. “The treatment was unjust and especially cruel considering the plight of ex-Muslims,” he 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.”

Indeed, even in 2018, over a dozen Muslim-majority countries actually prescribe the death penalty in law for Muslims who leave Islam. As EXMNA noted, Muslim leaders from across the world have called for international cooperation in penalizing content considered blasphemous in Islam.

The witch hunt against ex-Muslims is terrifyingly real, and one of the ugliest evils in the modern world.

Syed also addressed another instance of discrimination his organization faced. In 2016, EXMNA asked Wegmans to bake a cake for the anniversary of the organization. Wegmans refused to do so, allegedly because baking such a cake would offend the company’s Muslim employees.

“The gay wedding cake issue was gaining a lot of coverage back then, so one would have assumed that our discrimination would be very relevant, but sadly, people are divided by politics instead of sticking to their principles,” Syed declared. “Freedom of religion and from religion are non-partisan issues we should all be fighting for. Most ex-Muslims are progressive or broadly on the Left, so it is especially discouraging to see the lack of solidarity from progressives.”

Syed predicted that the media would refuse to cover the discrimination against these ex-Muslims. “I don’t expect much of the media to cover what happened here,” he said.

As for the “protest” t-shirts, they read, “God Love is Greatest” and “I’m an Ex-Muslim, Ask Me Why,” according to EXMNA.

EXMNA is a broadly secular group, and many members are atheists. They fight against the discrimination, terror, and murder targeted at ex-Muslims across the world.

Watch the video below.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.