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Muslim woman recounts bigoted customer at Kerbey Lane; CEO apologizes

Kerbey Lane Cafe’s chief executive has apologized after a Muslim woman recounted bigoted comments directed toward her and her friend by a customer at the restaurant’s Guadalupe Street location near the University of Texas campus.

They wrote about their experience on Facebook, and the post went viral.

The restaurant posted CEO Mason Ayer’s apology on its Facebook page and its website after he called one of the women, Leilah Abdennabi, and apologized to her, Ayer said.

Both Abdennabi and her friend, Sirat Al-Nahi, wrote about their encounter in Facebook posts. In her post, Al-Nahi said she had “never felt more dehumanized and humiliated than I did this morning.”

According to Al-Nahi, Abdennabi parked their car while Al-Nahi got out to get a table. A man inside was watching her friend park and started insulting her parking, Al-Nahi said.

He said, “she should just go back to Saudi Arabia where she came from,” Al-Nahi recounted.

Al-Nahi — who like Abdennabi was born in the United States — confronted him, asking him to repeat his words, and he did, she said.

“And the same goes for you,” Al-Nahi recalled him saying. “What? You have a gun in there? Just go ahead and shoot me.”

Kerbey Lane employees then seated him at a table, she said. The women spoke to employees, who said there was nothing else they could do.

“Leilah goes to talk to him, and he says the same things in front of the entire restaurant, and nobody says a single thing,” Al-Nahi wrote on Facebook. “As we turn to leave, Leilah, in tears, says, ‘Just go. Everyone knows we were told very racist things, and this restaurant doesn’t feel the need to address it because who cares about us?’ And somebody called out, ‘Nobody.’ And we left. Because it was true.”

Ayer said he and the manager who was there regret how the situation was handled and they should have asked “the hateful guest” to leave.

“I was deeply saddened when I learned of the upsetting events that occurred at our Guadalupe location on Sunday morning,” Ayer wrote. “There should be no place for racist, ignorant behavior in our society, and it’s incredibly upsetting that an incident like this occurred at all.”

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