After seven Muslim women filed a civil rights lawsuit against Urth Caffe, saying they were targeted and humiliated by management at the Laguna Beach location, the restaurant chain announced its intention to counter-sue, claiming the lawsuit is fraudulent.
The women, represented by three attorneys, discussed their grievances against Los Angeles-based Urth Caffe in a press conference Tuesday at the Plaza of Flags at the Santa Ana Civic Center.
“The women were singled out and targeted because they appeared to be Muslim,” said attorney Mohammad Tajsar. “Urth Caffe targeted these women as a way of cleansing their location of women that appeared to be Muslim to appease the Islamaphobia in a predominantly white Laguna Beach community.”
Shallom Berkman, owner of Urth Caffe, disputed the claims. His wife, Jilla, who is Muslim, was the one who advised management to call police after the women became rude toward restaurant staff, he said.
Urth Caffe announced Wednesday that it is being represented by the American Freedom Law Center, a firm that specializes in faith-based lawsuits.
“Urth Caffe did not discriminate against the women who have filed this fraudulent lawsuit,” said David Yerushalmi, co-founder and senior counsel for the center. “The lead plaintiff (Sara Farsakh) in the frivolous lawsuit is … a college-age activist for Palestinian causes. We intend to sue Farsakh and her co-conspirators for trespass and to seek damages.”
Yerushalmi said he will file a counter-complaint quickly.