YPSILANTI, Mich. (FOX 2) - A Muslim couple in Michigan is filing a complaint after they claim they were told to "go back to their country" by an employee at a fast food chain.
Alaa Kouider and Ameur Dhaimini say this happened after they went through the drive through at Tim Hortons on Hewitt Road in Ypsilanti. They weren't happy with their order, and went inside to ask for a new coffee. That's when they say they were verbally harassed and told to go back to their own country.
"It was very hurtful - I've never been treated that way in my life," said Alaa Kouider, a victim of the assault.
"This kind of discrimination here in the United States - it was very sad and hurtful," said Ameur Dhaimini, the other victim.
The Council on American Islamic Relations held a news conference Friday to release cell phone video of the encounter. In the video, a woman behind the counter can be heard sternly repeating "stay away" and "have a good day" to the couple. The man is then heard saying "let's go," and the two turn around and head for the door. That's when the same employee said, "Okay, go to your country (expletive). Why you in the USA?"
Officials with the council say incidents like these are happening more often.
"We've taken in 40 percent more Islamaphobia cases in the second half of 2019 than we took in the first half of 2019," said Amy Doukere, an attorney with the Council of American Islamic Relations, "and that's up from 50 percent from what we did in 2018."
You can see the video in full in the video player above.
The couple is now filing a discrimination complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
"Those words that came out of that young lady's mouth that were intended to hurt, but most importantly they were intended to silence. I want to let her know and everyone else that's ever used a comment like that know, that we won't back down; we won't stay silent; and we definitely won't be going anywhere. We're here to stay. This is our country. I don't need to prove myself to anybody. And as long as there's room in America for bigotry and racism there's definitely room for acceptance and love," said Alaa Kouider at the news conference.
FOX 2 reached out to Tim Hortons for comment who said the employee was fired.
We always want team members and guests to have a positive, welcoming and rewarding experience at our restaurants. Franchisees are independent and responsible for all employment matters. The team member involved in this incident has been terminated by the franchise as Tim Hortons does not tolerate any type of harassment in the workplace.
The couple tells us they did receive a call from someone with Tim Hortons offering an apology, saying this is not behavior they support or represent. The couple was also told that employee had been fired, and they were offered a gift card.
They tell us however they do not feel that is appropriate or what should be done. They say they'd like to see some corporate training.
"Those words that came out of that young lady's mouth were intended to hurt, but most importantly they were intended to silence," said Kouider. "I want to let her know and everyone else that's ever used a comment like that know - that we won't back down, we won't stay silent and we definitely won't be oging anywhere."
"We're here to stay. This is our country - I don't need to prove myself to anybody."