Congressman John Fleming says allegations a Muslim couple was discriminated against at one of his Subway restaurants are completely false, and that he has the videotape to prove it.
Fleming, who is also a local physician and business owner, said the November 21 incident at one of his Shreveport locations could possibly be politically motivated due to the involvement of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has alleged ties to Hamas.
The incident involved Mohammad Husain, 63, of Kenner, and his wife, Talat. Husain alleges that the manager on duty denied the couple service and even went so far as to ask them "are you Muslim?"
"I have been hurt and humiliated," Husain said in a published report in the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Fleming said that store video surveillance, and accompanying audio recordings, reveal that Husain only asked for a sandwich following 45 minutes of "frightening the store's employees."
"They first spent 30 minutes in the store doing a ritual bath in our bathrooms," Fleming said in an interview Thursday with the Press-Herald. "They were splashing water and oils all over the bathrooms, and they didn't ask for service or ask for a sandwich during this time."
Fleming said that Husain then left the bathroom and walked outside where he unrolled a blanket and began a prayer. While this was going on, Fleming said cars were pulling into the parking lot and then leaving rather than walking into the restaurant.
"Instead of stopping to eat, they were leaving," the Minden Congressman said. "So he's running off customers."
At this point, Fleming said the store manager thought the couple were vagabonds and politely asked them to leave, to which Husain allegedly became angry and began to hurl curses and threats.
"The manager was afraid, so she locked the door to the store and wouldn't let him inside," Fleming said. "At this point, his wife comes out of the bathroom and the manager lets her out of the store."
When the door opened, Fleming said Husain wedged his foot in the opening and forced his way inside.
"This had gone on for 45 minutes and finally the manager calls 9-1-1 fearing for her safety," he said. "9-1-1 instructed her and the employees to retreat to the back of store."
Fleming said the man asked for a sandwich only after the 9-1-1 call.
"Well of course she's not going to give him a sandwich after all of this happened," he said. "She never asked him if he was Muslim."
Police officers arrived at the store and calmed the situation. No arrests were made.
Fleming said the surveillance footage is not being released at this time, in light of reports that the couple may file a lawsuit.
The congressman said the notion that religion or race played a part in his employees' actions was ridiculous.
"We've had a manager who has been on our staff for over 20 years who is a practicing Muslim," he said. "If we hire Muslims, why wouldn't we serve Muslims?"