Turkish stores in New Zealand refuse to serve Israelis

January 15th, 2009 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Jan 15 (DPA) A Turkish Muslim café owner who refused to serve two Israeli women as a protest over the conflict in Gaza had clearly breached their human rights, New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said Thursday.Mustafa Tekinkaya refused to serve the women in his cafe in Invercargill, saying that Israel was killing innocent babies and women in the Gaza Strip. “I have decided as a protest not to serve Israelis until the war stops,” he told the Southland Times.

Ali Uzun, who owns the neighbouring Turkish Kebabs shop in New Zealand’s southernmost city, told the paper he was also refusing to serve Israelis.

Natalie Bennie said she and her sister Tamara Shefa were told to leave the Mevlana Cafe after Tekinkaya heard them speaking Hebrew and asked where they were from.

“He said, ‘Get out, I’m not serving you’,” she said. “It was shocking.”

De Bres told reporters that the Human Rights Act prohibited discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of ethnic or national origin, or of political opinion.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation in Palestine, it is simply against the law for providers of goods and services in New Zealand to discriminate in this way,” he said.

“Oh my God, the Gaza Strip has come to Invercargill,” the city’s mayor, Tim Shadbolt, told the paper.

“Generally speaking, I am against all wars and I suppose people have got a right to protest,” said Shadbolt, who was a high profile protestor against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. “I couldn’t really deny that.”

But he added, “It would have been upsetting for the women and I feel sympathy for them.”

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