A Muslim woman who wears a hijab says she stopped in at the Midway Target in St. Paul on Wednesday, and ordered a frozen drink at the Starbucks.
She told the barista the name to write on the cup: Aishah. Pronounced “ah-yee-shuh.”
When she got her cup back, the word scrawled on the side was: “Isis.”
Aishah, who declined to give her last name for safety reasons, was pretty upset by this. She presumed the barista recognized her as Muslim, and went the sadly common route of insulting by her referencing the terrorist organization ISIS.
When a small group of men set off a bomb in the Dar al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington a few years ago, they did so, by their own admission, because they believed it to be a focal point for terror recruiting – a claim that has never been substantiated by law enforcement.
When a random photo of a young woman holding a gun popped up on Twitter, conspiracy theorists insisted that 1. the woman was DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (it wasn’t) and 2. it was taken at an “Al’Qaida training camp” (it wasn’t).
And according to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Executive Director, Jaylani Hussein, this is not even the first time they’ve heard of someone writing “Isis” on a Starbucks cup and handing it to a person in Islamic attire. (For one, there’s this Philadelphia incident from last year. The guy’s name was Aziz, pronounced “uh-zeez.”)
At a CAIR press conference Monday, Aishah said was hopeful the store manager would help her out.
“But instead, she sided with the barista,” she said. The manager allegedly asked her what the issue was, and said employees get people’s names wrong “all the time.”
“I felt humiliated. I felt enraged. I felt belittled,” she said.
She and CAIR are both calling Starbucks and Target to fire the employees involved, and take steps to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.
On Monday, Hussein said the most Target had taken was to send a statement claiming what happened had been an honest mistake, and that the barista did not even know what ISIS was.
“We believe this is an Islamophobia apologist statement,” Hussein said. CAIR may also pursue other legal avenues to address the incident, including filing a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Starbucks declined to comment (the store in question is a licensed location) but a Target spokesperson sent a statement saying the company “strictly prohibit[s] discrimination and harassment in any form.”
“We are very sorry for this guest's experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation,” it said. “We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with more clarification.”