Rep. John Fleming pushed back publicly on Wednesday against a Muslim couple who said they were discriminated against at a Subway restaurant owned by the Louisiana Republican.
Fleming told The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper that Mohammad and Talat Husain were denied service on Nov. 21 at the Shreveport, La. shop because they left a “big mess” in the bathroom, provoked employees and were scaring away other customers.
The congressman, who owns dozens of Subways in the state, said Mohammad Husain’s allegation that an employee asked about his religion was untrue and a security video proves it.
“She never asked if he was Muslim. That’s simply not true, and the audio and video supports it,” Fleming told the paper. “It really seems to me he was trying to provoke a reaction and only asked to eat after he’d provoked a reaction.”
Fleming said the Husains used the bathroom for about 30 minutes and left a “big mess” of water and washing oils. He said they left and re-entered the Subway about three times during a 45-minute period without placing an order. Husain told the paper he only used the bathroom for 10 minutes and only went back outside one time.
Fleming said Mohammad Husain spread a blanket and trinkets on the ground of the parking lot and that the 63-year-old might have been trying to pray. A female employee thought his behavior was odd, believed he might have been a vagabond and asked him to leave, according to Fleming. The congressman said it was only after Husain tried to force his way back into the Subway that the employee locked him out.
Husain told The Advocate he and his wife were considering their legal options. Fleming said there was no current plan to release the security video because it could give the Husains extra information if they choose to sue.
He also suggested the Husains could have “political reasons” for their actions and said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which publicized the couple’s complaints, had “nefarious connections” and ties to Hamas.