His name is 'Aziz' but Islamophobia is deaf. Starbucks barista writes 'ISIS' instead
Starbucks' misspelling of names isn't always cute.
"Islamophobia First, Coffee Later" seems to be the motto of a Starbucks barista in the U.S. after the employee's hate manifested on a coffee cup.
Last month, a man wearing traditional Middle Eastern clothing – a thobe, more specifically – walked into a Starbucks in Philadelphia to get his daily dosage of caffeine. Little did he know he would instead be met with a coffee cup with Islamophobia written all over it. The man gave the employee his Muslim name, "Aziz" — short for Abdul Aziz. The barista wrote "ISIS," the acronym for the Islamic terror group Daesh, on the man's cup instead.
Was it a mistake? Well, Starbucks told NBC News the barista misspelled the 40-year-old's name and it believes it was "a mistake and not discrimination."
"The barista mistakenly spelled it incorrectly," a spokesman said.
"I was shocked at first, and then angry because I felt as though we were discriminated against," the man, whose birth name is Niquel Johnson, said.
The man's experience took place on Aug. 25. Following the incident, he filed a complaint to Starbucks with his name, phone number, and email address. In it, he said he felt "discriminated against and it's hurtful."
Less than an hour after his email, a Starbucks customer care employee replied. The email correspondence was sent to NBC News.
"I have arranged for a specialist to follow up with you by phone at the number you provided," the response said. "We will contact you within 1-2 business days," it added.
A couple of days later, a Starbucks district manager called the man and said he had thought the issue had been resolved when someone spoke to Johnson's niece Alora – a person Johnson said doesn't exist – earlier that week.
This wouldn't be the first time discriminatory judgements caused an uproar at a Starbucks chain.
Last year, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores for a few hours to train about 175,000 employees in "unconscious bias" after two black men were handcuffed for sitting at the chain without purchasing anything.
Islamophobia has manifested numerous times in other coffee shops in the U.S. previously. But, in an incident that took place in 2018, the barista at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop actually came to a Muslim woman's defense. Last May, a barista at a coffee shop in Riverside, California, refused to serve a man after he insulted a Muslim woman wearing the niqab.
In a video that went viral at the time, the man can be heard mocking the woman. "Is it Halloween or something?" the man said. The woman asked him whether he acknowledges that she is Muslim. He had no shame and went on to say "I don't like your religion, how's that?"
"I don't want to be killed by you," he added.