|Muslims featured in YouTube video say it falsely portrays them|
DEARBORN — A YouTube video featuring Dearborn-based Muslim-owned bakeries is attracting national attention and has received more than 2 million views.
The video, “Hidden CAM: Gay Wedding Cakes at Muslim Bakeries?” was made by comedian, actor and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.
It has upset some Muslims who appeared in it, and who say Crowder’s claims are not true and that he falsely portrayed them.
In the video, Crowder is seen visiting three Muslim-owned bakeries and claiming that all three refused to take the order for a gay couple’s wedding cake.
The video was posted after Indiana’s highly contested “Religious Freedom” bill was approved by a vote of 40-10 on March 26. Opponents of that law argue that it legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act could allow businesses to deny service to customers who are gay.
Similar legislation has been introduced in other states, but Gov. Snyder has said he would veto any religious freedom bill in Michigan.
The owners of Memories Pizza, a small business in Indiana, was forced to close down after Crystal O’Connor, one of the shop’s owners, told a local ABC station that they wouldn’t provide pizzas for a gay wedding.
She later told the media, “It is not a sin that we bring gays into our establishment and to serve them. It is a sin, though, if we cater their wedding. We feel we are participating, we are putting a stamp of approval on their wedding.”
In the video Crowder is shown at Golden Bakery on Warren Avenue asking for a wedding cake for a same sex couple.
A Golden Bakery employee said he told Crowder to go across the street to Hallab Bakery for the order, because Golden Bakery does not make wedding cakes.
The employee, who did not want to be identified, said Crowder misrepresented him and others in the video.
“I kept explaining why we don’t make wedding cakes here, but he didn’t show that part in the video,” the employee said. “I am only upset because what he did is not right. He is accusing us of something we never did.”
Employees at Hallab Bakery told The Arab American News the employee from the bakery who was featured in the video does not know English, so he didn’t understand what Crowder was asking.
Crowder is one of several people from outside Dearborn who have been accused of visiting the city to attack the community and thus gain attention for themselves.
Dearborn resident Ali Beydoun, a customer at Golden Bakery, said Crowder’s video feeds into the negative stereotypes about the Arab community.
“They should probably come here for themselves and see how we treat each other,” he said. “We don’t have a problem. We actually never refuse anyone. We have all types of people, all types of cultures here. Muslims, Christians, Jews, we all work together here.”
Beydoun added that constantly listening to the misconceptions and stereotypes about the community “hurts.”
“They are trying to portray us as something we are not,” said Hassan Baydoun, another customer at Golden Bakery. “They try to come in and make us look like the bad guys. He is also trying to portray us as something we are not and people who don’t like gays, people who are biased and stuff, and that is not who we are.”
In the video, Crowder accuses Faten Tofeili, a manager at Dearborn Sweets, of refusing to take his order. In a response posted on Facebook, Tofeili wrote, “I am the worker from Dearborn Sweets. No one from our bakery turned him down. We kindly accepted him and his cake order and we treated him as if he was any other customer. The fact that he is displaying our bakery as turning him down is a lie.”
Huffington Post writer Brian Stone said radio host Rush Limbaugh accused the LGBT community of being afraid of “battling” Muslims over wedding cakes, because Islam’s real goal is an “all-out assault on Christianity.”
In a blog post, Stone wrote, “Don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh or the guy who made this video. Dearborn’s a diverse, wonderful city…We love everybody here: gay, straight, Christian or Muslim. Dearborn is what the rest of the world would look like if people learned how to get along.”
Tofeili accused Crowder of making up lies about the bakeries to get attention.
She was also upset that Crowder called it a Muslim Bakery, saying there is no such thing.
“We are a bakery, not a Muslim bakery,” said Mariam Khansa, an employee of Dearborn Sweets.
Fellow employee Hussein Khansa said Dearborn Sweets has made a cake for a gay couple’s wedding before; and that the couple returned to have the bakery make them one for their anniversary.
“We have never refused anyone,” Khansa said.
Employees at Dearborn Sweets said they were surprised at the video because Crowder appeared to be very nice. They say he edited parts of the video to make it seem like Tofeili wouldn’t take his order.
“He actually edited it out and spoke over her,” Mariam Khansa said.
“That line wasn’t asked. That wasn’t the question. There was a lot of editing of course. We even have video that shows he was never refused.”