• Sofia Eugeniou

Starbucks barista charged with racial discrimination by Muslim woman after finding 'ISIS' on her cup

A Muslim woman has filed a discrimination charge against Target (an American retail corporation) after she received a drink from a Target Starbucks barista with "ISIS" written on the cup instead of her name


The Target store in question is located in the Minnesota region.


Aishah, the woman filing the charge against the Target store, is being represented by the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), which filed a charge to the Minnesota Department of Human rights last week.


The 19-year-old, who wears a hijab, described feeling "singled out" for her religious beliefs after seeing the acronym "ISIS" - which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist group known for its extremist beliefs and violence - on her cup. The incident occurred on 1 July.


With the acronym being a heavily damaging word that ruins the reputation of the Muslim community all over the world, Aisha recalled feeling "belittled" and "humiliated" after seeing it written on her cup.


The employee who served Aisha her drink at the time said she had not heard the name correctly, according to the discrimination charge.


Aisha's concerns were dismissed upon speaking to the barista's supervisor. Instead, she was given a new drink and a $25 Starbucks gift card before being escorted from the vicinity by security officers.


CAIR-MN is calling for two of the Target Starbucks employees involved in the incident to be fired.

Image credit: Ron Todt/AP (USA Today website)

Responding to the incident, a spokesperson for Target said the retailer wants "everyone who shops with us to feel welcomed, valued and respected and we strictly prohibit discrimination and harassment in any form. We are very sorry for this guest's experience at our store and immediately apologised to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation".


Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAI-MN, said labelling someone who is a follower of the Music faith as "ISIS" is "perhaps the most Islamophobic statement you can make towards a Muslim".


This is not the first time the Starbucks brand has been entangled in racism cases and poor treatment and care of the welfare of its black and minority ethnic workers. In May 2018, the company shut early more than 8,000 US cafes for racial bias training for 175,000 employees - evidently, this has not solved its issues, but does indicate the chain is at least willing to take that first step in doing so.


With racial equality protests still ongoing, ignited by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer, there are hopes that racism and discriminatory behaviour of this kind will be effectively and appropriately dealt with as part of a new norm, and not swept under the carpet with an appeasing public statement that has no real proactive action behind it.

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