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A Muslim Teen Filed A Discrimination Claim After Receiving A Starbucks Cup With "ISIS" Written On It

"I actually couldn’t believe this was happening,” she told BuzzFeed News. Target, which operates the Starbucks location, says it was a mistake.

Posted on July 8, 2020, at 4:04 p.m. ET

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A Muslim teenager has filed a human rights complaint after a barista at a Minnesota Starbucks gave her a cup with “ISIS” written on it instead of her name.

On July 1, Aishah and a friend were at a Starbucks inside a Target store in St. Paul. The 19-year-old, who asked that her last name not be used due to safety concerns, said the barista had asked her to repeat her name when taking the order. But when Aishah was handed her drink, it came with “ISIS” written on it instead of her name.

“I felt a lot of emotions, and shock was the main one because I actually couldn’t believe this was happening,” she told BuzzFeed News.

She said she thinks it happened because she was wearing a hijab and a face mask.

Courtesy of Aishah

“This is a reminder that Islamophobia is alive and present in our communities,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of the Minnesota chapter of Council on American–Islamic Relations, at a Monday press conference about the incident.

The organization helped Aishah file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights the same day.

Aishah said the barista told her they put “ISIS” on the cup because they hadn’t heard her name correctly. A manager then came over and told her people’s names are frequently misspelled on cups. Aishah called these explanations “not credible or acceptable.”

“When somebody orders a drink at Starbucks — if the barista can’t spell the name, then they ask you to spell it,” she said, adding that never happened with her order.

Aishah’s human rights complaint, a copy of which was provided to BuzzFeed News, said a manager offered her a free drink and $25 gift card, and that she was then escorted out by security.

Target, which operates the Starbucks location in question, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that it's "very sorry for this guest's experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation."

The spokesperson said its internal investigation found “it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake." The company said it will offer additional training to the barista.

A Starbucks spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the location in question is licensed and operated by Target and that the retailer is leading the investigation.

Aishah said she has not heard from Target since she called the company to complain after the incident, and neither has CAIR-MN.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR-MN, told reporters he wants the barista and manager fired and for Target and Starbucks to reinvest in training for their employees. In 2018, Starbucks closed all of its US stores to provide antibias, diversity, and inclusivity training to employees.

“We are hoping that bringing light to this incident will actually transform how Target and Starbucks and many other companies deal with such incidents,” Hussein said.

This is at least the second time a Muslim customer has had “ISIS” written on their cup at a Starbucks. Last August, a man dressed in a Middle Eastern tunic told a barista at a Philadelphia Starbucks that his name was Aziz. He was handed a drink bearing the terrorist organization’s acronym.

"The barista mistakenly spelled it incorrectly,” a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News.

Aishah told BuzzFeed News she keeps reliving the trauma of the incident because it’s all over social media.

As for Starbucks and Target, she said, “Long term, I don’t think I would go back to either of those outlets.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post claimed that an employee was unaware of ISIS the terrorist organization; this was misattributed to a Target spokesperson and has been removed from this post.

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