A group of Muslim women who claim in a lawsuit they were kicked out of a California restaurant for wearing headscarfs have been accused of “civilizational jihad” by a lawyer for the restaurant, which has launched a countersuit.
The seven women, six of whom were wearing hijabs, were kicked out of Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach in April.
They claim that they were targeted for ejection because of their hijabs, though the cafe denies that, claiming that they were violating a policy which limited seating time to 45 minutes, and have also claimed that there were other women wearing headscarves present who were not thrown out.
David Yerushalmi, the lawyer representing Urth Caffe, said that one of the owners of the cafe, Jilla Berkman, is also a Muslim.
He said that the discrimination suit was “an extortion”, called the women’s lawyers “ambulance-chasers”, and said that he planned to bring a suit against both the plaintiffs and their legal team for malicious prosecution. The countersuit that he has brought in this case, however, is for trespassing.
Yerushalmi is a controversial figure, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit advocacy group which collates information on hate groups and extremists, as an “anti-Muslim activist who is a leading proponent of the idea that the United States is threatened by the imposition of Muslim religious law, known as Shariah”.
“Ideally, he would outlaw Islam and deport its adherents altogether,” the SPLC’s profile of Yerushalmi adds.
Asked about the SPLC’s characterization of him, Yerushalmi said that he “represents a lot of Muslims”.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Yerushalmi alleged that the suit against Urth Caffe was part of a wider “civilizational jihad” waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which aims, he said, “to weaken western civilization”.
“Urth Caffe has decided to hire a lawyer who has made a career out of crusading against Muslims in America,” said Mohammad Tajsar, a lawyer representing the seven women. “Their decision to hire this particular gentleman frankly makes our case. It demonstrates that this organization has no regard for the very Muslim clientele that it claims it caters to.”
Tajsar said he was “dumbstruck” by the allegations made by Yerushalmi, and also noted that the legal filing – the countersuit for trespass – doesn’t attempt to legally assert the claims of abuse of lawsuit that Yerushalmi has made publicly against him and his clients.
“They haven’t countersued for abuse of process,” Tajsar said. “They have alleged abuse of process, but not filed for that, and the reason why is that it would be incorrect and patently frivolous. There’s a lot of bluster and attempts to paint our clients as politically-motivated without any basis in fact.”
Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Los Angeles branch of CAIR, said that, contrary to Yerushalmi’s allegations, his organization was not involved with the case against Urth Caffe.
“I’m not privy to the details of the case, of their claim, and I would hope that a fair trial would allow us to know what happened,” he said. “But if anyone had any doubts about what happened on that day, those doubts are eliminated by the fact that the owners of Urth Caffe 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,” he added.