FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2016
Wegmans, a chain of 89 grocery stores, refused to bake and decorate a cake for a private celebration for those who have left the faith of Islam.
The request included a picture of the Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) name and logo, with a caption of “Congratulations on 3 years!”, but was refused by an associate from the Fairfax branch of the popular chain, stating that the request was “offensive”.
EXMNA representatives called Wegmans bakery to clarify, and were refused again, with no explanation on why the logo, name, and caption was considered offensive.
After conferring with management, the Wegman’s employee stated that her boss(es) would not change their stance on the issue. The associate further added that – the store had Muslim workers, “my employees may not know what this stands for, Ex-Muslims of North America, and I don’t have enough time and people to educate them on what it is,” and although they were not sure if the employees would be offended, they “can’t put them in that situation”.
“I’m shocked by the denial,” said Muhammad Syed, the president of EXMNA. “There is nothing about our name or logo that can be considered offensive to any reasonable individual. There are some, however, who take our very existence as an affront to their faith, and to them I have only this to say: We have every right to exist and be proud of who we are, and we won’t back down.”
EXMNA representatives reached out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional separation of state and church, who agreed that the actions of Wegmans employees were unlawful and discriminatory. “Refusing to provide services to a group on the basis of their religion or lack of a religion is a clear violation of federal, state, and local civil rights laws—one we hope the company will move quickly to correct,” said FFRF constitutional attorney Andrew L. Seidel.
On behalf of EXMNA, FFRF is asking Wegmans to fulfill the original order without charge and educate its employees on their duty to serve patrons without discrimination.
“Ex-Muslims around the world are persecuted and threatened, even by their own family and friends,” Syed continued. “We assumed that here, in the United States, we could go about our business without disruption. Unfortunately, even respectable businesses would rather turn away a persecuted group than risk offence.”
Ex-Muslims of North America is a 501 ( c)(3) registered non-profit, dedicated to advocating for acceptance of religious dissent, promoting secular values, and reducing discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.