A line of customers at Andrew’s Ice Cream in Orange stretched far outside the door on Saturday morning. The local Muslim community turned out in a show of unity and support following a harrowing incident last week when a man accosted Nura Takkish and Malaak Ammari, two hijab-wearing patrons. That didn’t sit well with co-owner Cynthia Ramsey who responded by saying, “If you can’t be nice, we don’t want you here,” before worker Jessie Noah booted the bigot! “I don’t want them near my country, that’s what I want,” the man left as his weak parting shot.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) put together the “Ice Cream and Unity” social to honor all involved who took a stand against Islamophobia that evening. “This is much more than ice cream,” said CAIR-LA (of Anaheim) Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, “This is truly about preserving everyone’s dignity.” The civil rights organization gave champion of justice awards to Takkish and Ammari for reacting with composure in the face of hate. Ayloush turned to Andrew’s Ice Cream’s co-owners, Greg and Cynthia Ramsay, and Noah next. “This is a place, in my opinion, that represents what America should be,” he said before presenting them with awards, too.
When walking into Andrew’s Ice Cream, which opened two-and-a-half years ago, it makes sense why the parlor went national for its level-headed defense of the two Muslim women in these troubled times. Behind the barrels of different flavors, framed posters of Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King with their words of wisdom decorate the walls. Biblical quotes, inspirational sayings, and even a table full of Dr. Seuss books creates a warm environment without being too preachy.
But the parlor’s inviting atmosphere turned hostile when Takkish and Ammari stopped at Andrew’s Ice Cream by way of Yelp. The women enjoyed dessert while seated at a table when Noah came over to apologize for remarks made by the man who had stood behind them in line. “The first words out of his mouth were just really derogatory, nasty things towards my customers,” Noah tells the Weekly. She doesn’t want to repeat the particulars of his Islamophobic rant so as to deny giving them a platform. The women didn’t hear his comment at the time.
Noah served the man his ice cream, finished her shift and left the parlor. She saw him walking back towards the shop again and decided to go back to protect the women. The hater complained he had been served him the wrong ice cream (yeah, right!) and hurled more insults at Takkish and Ammari. “I walked back into the shop, went to the register, grabbed his three dollars and told him we didn’t want his business,” Noah adds. Around that time, Ammari started filming the incident with her smartphone. “I was fearful at the moment, that’s why I started recording,” she says.
Takkish posted the footage on Twitter, where it has been retweeted an astounding 28,000 times. Like with all things Twitter, the two have had their fair share of trolls, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. That same spirit permeated the Ice Cream and Unity event. “This is a great response to what happened,” Ammari tells the Weekly. “We’re having a celebration to celebrate these women, their courage and how every American should be.”
“I’m so humbled and amazed at the output,” Cynthia Ramsay said during the informal awards ceremony. She’s a special education school teacher by day and tells her students to play and talk nice with everybody “It shouldn’t be a big deal because in America, we say ‘liberty and justice for all.'”
Noah is similarly humble about her role. “No, I don’t feel like a hero,” she tells the Weekly. “I feel like I just did the right thing.” Andrew’s already served good ice cream to boot, but now folks have an either better reason to visit. But with the place now being on the Muslim map, may we offer a suggestion and have some rosewater or orange blossom flavors incorporated? Prepared to order, of course! Allah minute! Now THAT would be a great clap back to the hater! Insha’allah!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!