McDonald’s apologized to a Muslim woman in the United Kingdom after she was told by a security guard to remove her head scarf if she wanted to enter one of the fast-food chain’s restaurants.
The 19-year-old woman, who has chosen to stay anonymous, said she was stopped by the security guard when entering a McDonald’s in north London and told her head covering was a security threat and must be removed, local media reported Friday.
After she refused, she said the security guard continued to insist she take off her head scarf, leading her to film the encounter on her phone.
In the video of the incident, which was posted on Twitter by her friend, she can be heard saying to the security guard: “Why can’t I come into McDonald’s? Because I am wearing a hijab?” she asks, using the Arabic name for the traditional Islamic head covering.
When he responds, “It’s just a matter of taking it off,” she says, “It’s not just a matter of taking it off. I wear this for religious reasons and I’m not ashamed of it, and I will stand in line and I will get the food I want.”
“I go to all the shops and any restaurant I want and in my hijab and I buy the food I want to buy and then I come here,” she continues. “This is actually like a hate crime; this is a hate crime.”
Following an attempted intervention on her behalf of a bystander, the woman called the demand she remove her headscarf “fucking ridiculous,” prompting a McDonald’s employee to tell her, “Don’t be rude” and to demand that she stop filming, which she refused.
She was then informed that she would be able to order food at the restaurant, but said, “I don’t want want anything any more” and left.
We will be contacting the relevant authorities to ensure this is dealt with. It is disgusting that hate crimes and discrimination are so prevalent in this country, especially in such a diverse city like London. We cannot be silent bystanders to this hate.
The Muslim woman later recounted the incident to The Guardian.
“I thought: ‘It’s finally happening to me,’ like it has to so many hijabis. It didn’t feel real because I had seen so many videos like this and it was finally happening to me in real life. I was in so much disbelief,” she said.
“The friend I was with was shocked and scared, and said it was a risky situation. When it was over, I finally realized how these situations can become dangerous. This is not a one-off thing,” she added.
She vowed to never enter a McDonald’s again.
In response, McDonald’s said it does “not have a policy in place which restricts or prevents anyone wearing a hijab, or any other religious dress, from entering one of its restaurants.”
“We welcome customers of all faiths and would like to apologize to the customer as this situation should not have taken place,” a spokeswoman for the fastfood chain said. “We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are addressing this with the individuals involved.”