BOSTON (AP) – Workers at a McDonald’s restaurant in Massachusetts deliberately put bacon on a fish sandwich that a Muslim woman ordered for one of her children, a civil rights organization said Wednesday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination on behalf of the woman.
“It is well known that Islam forbids Muslims from eating pork,” the complaint said. “McDonald’s employees intentionally added bacon to the complainant’s food in order to offend, humiliate and distress the complainant and her young children.”
The family was served the sandwich last June at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicopee, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) west of Boston.
The complaint is the first step in the process of seeking damages, said Barbara Dougan, a CAIR attorney. She also hopes it will prompt McDonald’s to better train its employees to prevent a similar incident in the future.
“Religious discrimination in a public accommodation is not only illegal but morally reprehensible,” she said in a statement.
An email requesting comment was left at McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Chicago. A message was also left for someone who answered the phone at Gomez Enterprises LLC, the operator of McDonald’s on Meadow Street in Chicopee.
The experience prompted one of the children to ask his mother if “they hate us.”
“McDonald’s made my children and I feel unwanted and worthless by intentionally stuffing a fish sandwich with bacon for no other reason than to punish us for our faith and religious beliefs,” said the woman, Ghadir Alahmar, in a statement. “That really hurt us. My children are now wondering if they are welcome in their own country. They ask me: ‘Do they hate us?’ How is a mother supposed to answer that question?”
Alahmar, who wears a hajib and abaya, entered the store on June 29 last year with her seven-year-old twin sons, the complaint said. She ordered a simple fish sandwich and had one of her children repeat the order to a worker if she didn’t understand her accent.
They received their order, which included fries and cookies, and left the restaurant to go to a nearby schoolyard where they intended to eat. One of her sons noticed the bacon.
The sandwich not only had bacon, but appeared to have extra bacon, the complaint said.
They didn’t eat the bacon, but one son ate the bottom half of the bun and part of the fish fillet, according to the complaint.
Alahmar’s husband returned to the store later that same evening with the uneaten portion of the sandwich and was refunded the purchase price.
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