Will bystanders help out a Muslim woman denied service at a Texas shop?
The Sept. 11 attacks, the Iraq war and suicide bombings worldwide have changed not only the way we live but the way we look at those around us, especially Muslims. "Islamophobia" has entered the American vernacular, and the anti-Muslim attitudes and prejudice it describes remain common.
What Would You Do?But what if you witnessed "Islamophobia" in action and saw someone being victimized because of someone else's prejudices? What would you do?
ABC's production crew outfitted The Czech Stop, a bustling roadside bakery north of Waco, Texas, with hidden cameras and two actors. One played a female customer wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf, or hijab. The other acted as a sales clerk who refused to serve her and spouted common anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slurs.
The polarity of reactions was shocking, from support to seething disapproval. Never did we expect customers to be so passionate or candid.
His Place, His Right
Our actor, Sabina, walked into the bakery in search of apple strudel. When she reached the counter, an actor posing as a sales clerk was quick to greet her with hateful anti-Muslim language.
"Get back on the camel and go back to wherever you came from," he said. "You got that towel on your head. I don't know what's underneath your dress. Just please take your business and go elsewhere with it."
"Sir, I am an American, I was born and raised here," she said.
The other customers seemed to hear the exchange but they barely looked toward our actors. When no one came to her defense, Sabina made a direct appeal to one customer.
"Sir, would you mind ordering me an apple strudel? That's why I am here," Sabina said.
Though visibly shaken by the hateful words, the man gave Sabina the cold shoulder, completed his purchase, and walked out of the bakery. "I really think that a person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to," he said after we told him about the experiment.
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