Urth Caffe disputes claims of Muslim discrimination

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Urth Caffe disputes claims of Muslim discrimination
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Urth Caffe disputes claims made in a viral video posted to social media that stated women were discriminated against for being Muslim at the restaurant.

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A popular eatery in Orange County came under fire over a video that went viral.

In the video, a woman claims she and her friends were asked to leave the Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach for being Muslim.

But the owner of the restaurant said the woman's claims are not true.

Sara Farsahk, the woman who posted the video on Facebook, claimed she and her Muslim friends were the victims of discrimination at Urth Caffe.

She explained that they were asked to leave after 45 minutes, to free up a table for customers ordering at the counter.

In the video, the women can be heard stating there are empty tables in the restaurant. When they wouldn't leave, the manager called police.

The video has been viewed more than 200,000 times.

ABC7 reached out to Urth Caffe, which said it does have a policy that patrons must give up or share their table after 45 minutes when it's busy.

The owner, Shallom Berkman, said there were people waiting in line that evening.

"Everybody wants an outside seat. We have this policy to make things fair and accommodate everyone who wants to enjoy Urth Caffe," Berkman said.

But to make things clear, Berkman stated the women were not asked to leave because they are Muslim.

"My wife is Muslim and I'm Jewish. We like to say we're a sign of world peace," Berkman said.

But the outrage generated by Farsakh's Facebook post prompted Yelp to block anyone from reviewing Urth Caffe so that people wouldn't post their views on the news story.

Berkman said he'd like to offer Farsakh a meal on the house.

"We're very sorry that she has this feeling that this was something racist, but that is just not the case," Berkman said.

Farsakh did not want to comment on camera for ABC7's story. She met with the Council on American Islamic Relations on Monday and they planned to issue a statement on her behalf Tuesday morning.