News, December 23, 2014
The owner of a Queensland cafe in trouble for posting a discriminatory sign saying “Sorry No Muslims” outside his business says he has faced a torrent of abuse but will not apologise for the offence he has caused.
Hundreds of people have left “reviews” on the Eagle’s Nest Bar and Grill’s Facebook page in response to the sign posted outside the restaurant in Longeach in Central West Queensland.
The message was written at the bottom of a sandwich board, which also included the words: “2000 years ago Jesus Christ made headlines turning water into wine . . . the tradition continues . . . We turn money into beer (Sorry No Muslims).”
Posts have been mixed on the Facebook page, with with reactions ranging from support to condemnation.
Cafe owner John Hawke said the sign was only up for nine hours, and it has sparked a lot of abuse.
“Over the past 24 hours, my business and now my home has received more than 200 phone calls,” he told ABC News.
“While the great majority are in support of free speech and are of patriotic sentiment, we have fielded too many abusive and threatening calls. For this I apologise to my family.
Mr Hawke however stopped short of apologising to those offended by the sign.
“I sincerely hope I don’t end up sanitising my every thought to the robotic degree that is evident in commercial life around us,” he continued.
“I did not encourage or envisage the social media response to this sign, but the story, if there is one, is in the reaction, not the action.”
Longreach mayor Joe Owens said the sign was something most people in his town didn’t agree with and described the incident as “a very unfortunate thing”.
Neighbouring business owners refused to speak about the sign that has tarred the town’s reputation.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane said the message was very concerning.
“Needless to say, it is concerning and disappointing that people would celebrate religious discrimination of this kind,” he said in a statement to news.com.au.
“Such attitudes belong to bygone eras when it may have been acceptable to exclude people from bars and restaurants because of their background.”
The controversy began with a single Facebook post by patron Helen Day who posted a one-star review on Friday questioning the sign.
“Just a bit surprised to see the sing up “Sorry No Muslims” . . . what’s that about???” she wrote.
The post was picked up by Facebook group Boycott Halal in Australia? No way and has no been shared hundreds of times.
[Editor’s Note: Comments at the bar’s Facebook page have been overwhelmingly positive–utterly unlike the negative comments included in this story. Scroll down to read comments and to add your own.]