UPDATE: video of the speech within here. They didn’t want non-Muslims to see it; that attitude went into the garbage with the last of the ‘Whites Only’ signs half a century ago. Amil Imani files his writeup of the background and the event here.
A couple of us decided to drop in to observe from afar (NOT to attend) a Sharia awareness event tonight at the Hyatt of Richardson. Jim Bright sent this report in:
This evening, Wednesday, July 27, 2011, Dr. Tariq Ramadan (previously banned from the U.S – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tariq_Ramadan), the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founding father of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke at the Hyatt – North Dallas in Richardson, Texas.
The topic: Dinners to Support Religious Freedom & Sharia Awareness
Certainly the title of his “Dinner” conflicted with his former expulsion from the US, but curious, I decided to at least come out and observe what I can observe. Arriving at the Hyatt at about 6:10, it was easy to spot the ballroom for the venue, and, seeing very few people in attendance, I took up a seat in the hallway some distance from the ballroom where I felt I could observe the event from a safe, and polite distance.
As I sat, and waited, and minded my own business, a few Muslims began to trickle in. Some in full traditional Muslim clothing, others appearing more Westernized. Roughly eight or so other Richardson police officers also arrived (apparently this peace loving group was anticipating trouble).
As a few more minutes passed, I noticed an older gentleman with a US Marine Corps Veteran hat in the hall. As my father was an Air Force Veteran, I struck up a conversation with him and his wife to help pass the time.
We spoke, quietly, and respectfully, about what we were seeing. At this point I noticed two non-Arabic men, with tickets, entering the event. No more than a few more moments had passed when a representative of the Hyatt came up to us and asked us to move to the lobby, away from the “party”. He was rude, and firm. Not in the way one would expect to be handled by staff at a world-class hotel. Sadly, I did not get his name. We asked why, and were told it was a private event (mind you, the private event was inside the ballroom, and we were quite some distance from it). Surprised, we protested, but accomodated. Obviously, we had been singled out for being white and not wearing Muslim clothing.
Once in the lobby, we saw the two men with tickets being escorted out. They had been expelled from the “Dinner to Support Religious Freedom & Sharia Awareness” for being non-Muslim. At this point, hotel management asked us to leave the property altogether. Understanding that this is private property and they are well within their rights, I acknowledged that I would, but asked to speak to the hotel manager to voice my complaint.
Her name is Camerron Jackson (I may have her first name misspelled, but this is how I recall her spelling it).
She supported her staff and asked me to leave, at which point I asked for the name of the regional or district manager. At this point, a Jim Smith intercepted me and told me they could take my contact info, which I gave him, and he promised that person would get back to me. They then had the police come over to escort us out of the building.
What does this group have to fear from a small handful of non-Muslims standing around, having a private conversation, several doors down from their party? We had no protest signs, we were in no way disruptive, and we complied with all of their requests, yet the Hyatt, or the Muslims, felt the need to have the police escort us from the lobby?
I guess the Hyatt in Richardson tonight was a “Muslim Only Zone”
Last night, I’d spoken strongly to discourage any sort of protest of this event at a meeting of concerned conservatives and helped convinced them not to do so. And I let them know that I would go to catch up with any stragglers that did show up to persuade them against anything confrontational that could prove to be counter-productive. I have a history for playing the ‘peacemaker’ role at rallies.
The sin I committed tonight- from where I was seated across the lobby- was have Jim stop by long enough to tell me he had been booted. That got me booted as well. The police were polite about it, but the hotel staff said nothing to me at all.
If you weren’t Muslim – or specifically had a room for the night, you were not welcome in the Hyatt of Richardson tonight, even well away from the area of the private event. It sure put a damper on my desire to go have a drink at the bar and maybe dinner at the hotel after the event was well under way.
My only question was whether the hotel staff had had to pray 5 times to the east today to work their shifts.
The greatest irony is in the name of the event: “Dinner to Support Religious Freedom & Sharia Awareness“ (Uhh, aren’t Muslims already AWARE of Sharia??)
In case any of you want to comment on this with the hotel (though there might be better response from district manager types), here is the hotel’s web site. PLEASE be polite if you do contact them.
UPDATE: Another piece of irony: we had been concerned people might show up with inflammatory signs and the like. If people HAD insisted on sign-waving outside the hotel, we had brought a couple for them to use. They said: “Here to Support the Freedoms of Expression, Religion, and Assembly: As Granted Under AMERICAN Law, NOT Sharia.“
Also, from an email sent to us: “Yes, the hotel is private property. However, the hotel is also a “place of public accommodation.” This concept put an end to white only restaurants and, of course, white only hotels.”