Wednesday, December 14, 2011

***Reply from Em Nazih***

We would've liked to post this reply after the meeting scheduled to happen tonight (check below) but to be fair until then, this is a reply sent from Mac McClenahan, director of Saifi Urban Gardens. More will be posted later.

Is it enough to make accusations in order to end racism?  No, you get to the bottom of the problem and fix it.  Unfounded accusations simply recreate the crude stereotypes that fuel racism.

Cafe Em Nazih and its hard working employees have been falsely accused of racism on the Anti-Racism blog, and there have been calls to boycot the Cafe on Anti-Racism's facebook page.  The simple fact is that Cafe Em Nazih is a restaurant, and has nothing to do with dorms.  Cafe Em Nazih hosts hundreds of hungry customers Arabs and non-Arabs, rich and poor, gay and straight every week, and anyone who has spent time there knows that the Cafe and its employees treat everyone equally.  The Cafe has on many occasions defended Syrian bus drivers, gay belly dancers, and Sudanese workers from bigoted Lebanese in order to create one of the few places in Beirut that truly welcomes all.  Boycot the cafe and you feed racism.

The "Racism at Em Nazih Dorms?" post is obviously refering to Saifi Urban Gardens, a simple mistake which would have been easy to solve had we been contacted by the Anti-Racism movement.  Unfortunately we were never contacted and no attempt has yet been made by the Anti-Racism Movement to actually address the racism they are accusing us of.  The fact is that Saifi Urban Gardens has hosted hundreds of guests representing every country in the Arab world.  We have no policy against Arabs staying at the hotel; just ask the Arabs sleeping at Saifi Urban Gardens right now.  We do have a policy of forbidding unmarried men and women to share a room.  This is a (silly) Lebanese law enforced by the General Security.

It is sad to see such an important cause as anti-racism used to target a place that brings people together.

We have contacted Ali Fakhry and are awaiting the opportunity to introduce Nada Dirani (who answered the phone and is being accused of racism) to her accuser and clear up what is obviously a huge misunderstanding.

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