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M. Khurram Baig Headshot

Wall Street Journal Cheers Discrimination by Apple Against Iranian Americans

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On July 3, 2012, the Wall Street Journal ran an online piece entitled "The Anti-Apple Fatwa" by Sohrab Ahmari. Aside from its sensationalistic title, the piece was flawed because the author operated from a false premise. Specifically, Mr. Ahmari stated that Sahar Sabet, the Iranian-American teenager that was profiled and discriminated against by an Apple Store employee in Alpharetta, Georgia, whom I represent, was singled out for refusal of service because she intended to purchase an iPad for her cousin in Tehran, Iran. That is simply incorrect. In a press release that was issued widely on June 25, 2012, Ms. Sabet clarified the public record with regards to what happened to her at the Apple Store.

In her own words, Ms. Sabet was in the Apple Store on the day in question to purchase an iPad as a birthday gift for her older sister who lives in North Carolina, not her cousin in Iran as was erroneously reported by some news outlets and regurgitated by Mr. Ahmari in his piece. As she was preparing to finalize her purchase, Ms. Sabet and her uncle were speaking to each other in Farsi. It was at this point that the Apple employee, who was not Iranian as Mr. Ahmari asserts, over heard Ms. Sabet speaking in Farsi and rudely demanded to know what language was being spoken. When Ms. Sabet replied that she and her uncle were speaking Farsi, the Apple employee, with no other basis, denied Ms. Sabet the sale and stated that "our countries do not have good relations with each other." Clearly, had Ms. Sabet not been speaking Farsi, she would not have been singled out on the date question.

Contrary to Mr. Ahmari's assertion that Apple was within its rights to deny the sale and that no discrimination took place, the facts are abundantly clear that Ms. Sabet was treated differently than every other person who walked into that Apple Store on that day because of her ethnicity and national origin. Frankly, Mr. Ahmari should invest more energy confirming the facts surrounding the incident in question and less time attacking the victim.

Mr. Ahmari also uses his piece to attack advocacy organizations that have come to Ms. Sabet's aide. Mr. Ahmari should also understand that organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) serve a critical function in cases such as Ms. Sabet's because they help combat false messages such as the message being espoused by Mr. Ahmari in an attempt to further his personal agenda. While Mr. Ahmari is certainly within his rights to advocate for indiscriminate sanctions, and even war, on Iran, he would be well advised to not let his politically motivated enthusiasm for such policies translate into advocacy for the infringement of Ms. Sabet's rights.

Mr. Ahmari should also know that to date, Apple has not issued, nor has Ms. Sabet received, an apology.

M. Khurram Baig is an attorney in Atlanta. A 2003 graduate of the Howard University School of Law, Mr. Baig's practice focuses on civil litigation and a significant portion of his practice is dedicated to working on matters that impact the Muslim and/or South Asian Communities.