The attorney representing the Muslim owner of a popular Orange County café is countersuing a group of Muslim women who initially sued her business for anti-Muslim discrimination. The counter-suit accuses the group of waging “civilizational jihad” and trespassing.
According to the UK Guardian, David Yerushalmi of the Los Angeles-based American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), the lawyer representing Urth Caffé in Laguna Beach and café owner Jilla Berkman alleged that the initial lawsuit was part of a wider “civilizational jihad” being waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which aims “to weaken western civilization”. Further, Yerushalmi reportedly said the women’s discrimination suit was a form of “extortion”, calling the lawyers representing the seven female Muslim plaintiffs “ambulance chasers.”
The seven women, six of whom wore hijabs (a traditional head covering required under Sharia law and in most Muslim countries) claimed that they were asked to leave before they finished eating at the café, and suggested the owner called the police on them due to Islamophobia. However, the restaurant has a stated 45-minute time limit per table and Yerushalmi argued that his client said the women “were loud and abusive to the Urth Caffe employees and refused to give up their table per the stated policy.” Berkman personally authorized one of her employees to call the police on the women.
“That night, as every Friday night, a large number of young people, including a majority of whom are Muslim and of Arab descent, make up the base of Urth Caffe’s customers,” Yerushalmi wrote. “Not surprisingly, many of these customers are women wearing hijabs. None of these other Muslim women were asked to leave.”
Mohammad Tajsar, one of the attorneys representing the Muslim women, had painted the incident as just he latest in a series of hate crimes against Muslims in the area.
Yerushalmi pointed out in the initial case that “the lead plaintiff in the frivolous lawsuit is Sara Farsakh, a college-age activist for Palestinian causes who self-promotes her involvement in radical organizations, at least one of which calls for the destruction of Israel.” He also noted that “the organization behind the scenes organizing this fraudulent lawsuit is CAIR.”
Yet CAIR’s Executive Director in Los Angeles, Hussam Ayloush, told the Guardian that contrary to Yerushalmi’s allegations, his organization was not involved with the Urth Caffé case. He blasted Yerushalmi in an interview with the Guardian‘s Nicky Woolf, saying “if anyone had any doubts about what happened on that day, those doubts are eliminated by the fact that the owners of Urth Caffé decided to retain David Yerushalmi. There are 1.2 million attorneys in America, and for them to choose the most hateful, the most bigoted attorney, tells a lot about the values that Urth Caffe’s owners hold.”
As for the claims of Islamophobia against Yerushalmi, he issued the following statement to the Guardian:
I represent Muslim Americans, running from jihad and seeking asylum. If you want to say I’m an anti-jihad lawyer, you’re 100% right. Am I anti-Sharia? Yes, I am. Am I anti-Muslim? Not if he doesn’t have a gun in his hand shooting at me.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz