McDonald’s accused of intentionally serving bacon to Muslim family

BOSTON — Workers at a McDonald’s restaurant in Massachusetts intentionally put bacon on a fish sandwich a Muslim woman ordered for one of her children, a civil rights organization said Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a discrimination complaint on behalf of the woman with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

“It is well known that Islam prohibits Muslims from eating pork,” the complaint states. “McDonald’s employees deliberately added bacon to the Complainant’s food in an attempt to offend, humiliate and cause distress to the Complainant and her young children.”

The family received the sandwich last June at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicopee, about 80 miles west of Boston.

The complaint is the first step in the process of seeking damages, said CAIR attorney Barbara Dougan. She also hopes it will spur McDonald’s to better train its employees to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations argued that McDonald’s tried to “offend, humiliate” Ghadir Alahmar, who is Muslim.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

“Religious discrimination in a place of public accommodation is not only illegal, but also morally wrong,” she said in a statement.

An email seeking comment was left at McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago. A message was also left for someone who answered the phone at Gomez Enterprises LLC, which operates McDonald’s on Meadow Street in Chicopee.

The experience prompted one of the children to ask his mother if they “hate us”.

“McDonald’s made my children and I feel unwanted and worthless by intentionally stuffing a fish sandwich full of bacon for no other reason than to punish us for our faith and religious beliefs,” said the wife, Ghadir Alahmar , in a press release. “It really hurt us. My children are now wondering if they are welcome in their own country. They ask me: ‘Do they hate us?’ How is a mother supposed to answer this question?

Alahmar, who wears a hajib and abaya, walked into the store on June 29 last year with her 7-year-old twin sons, the complaint says. She ordered a plain fish sandwich and asked one of her children to repeat the order to a worker in case he didn’t understand her accent.

They received their order, which included fries and cookies, and left the restaurant to walk to a nearby schoolyard where they planned to eat. One of his sons noticed the bacon.

A McDonald's Big Mac, left, rests in a box next to a bag of McDonald's fries, in Walpole, Mass., Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
A McDonald’s in Massachusetts allegedly served bacon to a Muslim mother and her son.
Photo AP/Steven Senne

The sandwich not only contained bacon, but appeared to have extra bacon, the complaint states.

They didn’t eat the bacon, but a son ate the bottom half of the bun and part of the fish fillet, according to the complaint.

Alahmar’s husband returned to the store with the uneaten portion of the sandwich later that evening and was refunded the purchase price.

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