While ordering a drink Wednesday in St. Paul, a 19-year-old Muslim woman gave the barista her name — Aishah — and repeated it for clarity.
The Minneapolis woman was shocked when she saw what the barista then wrote on her coffee cup: “ISIS.”
“The word that was written on the drink is a word that shatters the Muslim reputation all around the world,” said Aishah, whom the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Minnesota chapter identified only by her first name for safety reasons.
Target, which runs and operates the Starbucks in St. Paul’s Midway store, says it has apologized and “believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake,” according to a statement Monday.
Aishah and CAIR-MN on Monday called on the University Avenue Target to fire the employees who were involved, and an attorney submitted a charge of discrimination to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
ISIS is a common acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group.
“Unfortunately, with Islamophobia, the No. 1 thing Muslims are … discriminatorily identified (as) is terrorists,” said Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN executive director. “… Using this word for us would be the same as a Black man today being … (called) the N-word.”
CAIR-MN: MANAGER ALSO PART OF PROBLEM
When Aishah asked the employee why “ISIS” was written on her cup, the worker “claimed that she had not heard her name correctly,” according to a statement from CAIR-MN.
Aishah had been wearing her hijab, a head covering, which is “clearly a sign of her faith,” Hussein said.
When Aishah asked to speak with a manager, Hussein said the manager responded with: “What is the issue? People get their names wrong all the time.”
Aishah said she felt humiliated, enraged and belittled. She was sent away with a replacement drink and a $25 gift card.
Aishah filed a formal complaint with Target. A corporate representative reached out to her the next day to apologize, according to a Target spokesman, but Aishah said Monday morning she still had not received an apology.
TARGET: ADDITIONAL TRAINING, APOLOGY
Target said in a statement they are “taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”
The Minneapolis-based retailer added: “At Target, we want 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 apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation. We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with a simple clarification.”
Target CEO Brian Cornell announced a month ago that the corporation was committed to standing against racism, and pledged $10 million to advance social justice and support rebuilding and recovery efforts in local communities.
“This unfortunate incident is particularly appalling in light of the local and national appeals for racial justice and the ongoing calls for meaningful steps towards lasting equity in the United States of America,” said Alec Shaw, a civil rights attorney for CAIR-MN, who called on Cornell to “make the same commitment to stand against Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination and hate.”
At a Philadelphia Starbucks last year, a Muslim customer named Aziz had “ISIS” written on his drink cups. Starbucks called that a “regrettable mistake.”