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In the Name of God: the Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Last week, two Muslim women wearing headscarves in France were refused service by a restaurateur, claiming that “All Muslims are terrorists”:

A French restaurateur appeared to be refusing to serve women wearing the hijab on Saturday night in a video that has been widely circulated online.

“We don’t want to be served by racists, sir,” one woman can be heard saying in the video, which was captured by someone sitting at the table and does not show any faces. 

“Racists don’t plant bombs and don’t kill people,” the owner of Le Cénacle restaurant, which is in Tremblay-en-France, responded.

“Because we planted bombs, sir?” she asked.

“I don’t want people like you here,” he said. “Get out. Terrorists are Muslims and all Muslims are terrorists.”

It was caught on video, which became widespread.

The man later apologized the next day, claiming he succumbed to fear: 

A handful of people gathered outside of the restaurant Sunday to demand an explanation from the owner. He came out and apologized several times.

“I’d like to apologize to the entire Muslim community,” he said in a video captured by newspaper Le Parisien. “I freaked out; I’m scared of everything that’s happening these days.”

While his actions were detestable, his admission is the whole point: he succumbed to fear. I applaud him for his candor and his apology. 

Which brings me to another point: looking at the video, it would be easy for someone to use the video and argue that the French people are racist. He could point to that video, and the recent bans on so-called “Burkinis,” and argue that French people hate Muslims. 

Such an argument would be wrong. 

When my wife and I visited Paris last summer, we were only shown the utmost respect, hospitality, kindness, and generosity by the French people. I immediately fell in love, both with the people and the culture. After I came back, I embarked on learning the French language (j’aime bien parler français!). Videos such as the one I saw do not dissuade me from my experience. I know the truth is not the video I saw. 

The same is true with Muslims. Yes, there are savage criminals who kill in the name of Islam. But they are not the truth; they do not represent the whole; they do not tell the story of those women in France who were refused service because of their faith. 

The French are not racist, I know that to be true. You should also know that the meme, “All Muslims are terrorists and all terrorists are Muslims” is not true as well. 

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