19 Jan 2009

Protests held at cafe refusing to serve Israelis

5:45 pm on 19 January 2009

Protests were held on Friday outside an Invercargill cafe whose owner refused to serve two Israeli women.

The owner of Mevlana cafe, Mustafa Tekinkaya, a Turkish Muslim, told the women on Wednesday he was not going to serve anyone from Israel as a protest against the war in Gaza.

About 15 protesters gathered across the road from the cafe about 12.30pm on Friday to condemn Mr Tekinkaya's actions, but there were also some supporting him.

Rachael Goldsmith says she does not support Mr Tekinkaya's discrimination, but she understands his reasons.

Ms Goldsmith says she, her husband and her son stood in front of the cafe with signs protesting against the war in Gaza.

Earlier on Friday, organiser of pro-Israel rallies Tomer Sagi called the actions of the cafe owner racist.

Mr Sagi said Israelis encourage constructive and positive debate.

However, he said banning Israelis from his cafe was the wrong way for Mr Tekinkaya to express his opinions. He said Israelis living in New Zealand feel like they are being made targets.

Call for human rights education for migrants

The Federation of Ethnic Councils says the actions of the cafe owner show that migrants need to be taught about human rights in New Zealand.

The chairperson of the federation, Puncha Narayanan, says Mr Tekinkaya's actions are unacceptable and bordering on unlawful.

Mr Narayanan says the induction of new migrants to New Zealand needs to be more meaningful.