A local political discussion group that says it stresses civility over ideology is planning to have a "patriotic Muslim-American" speaker at their next kaffeklatsch
-- on the eleventh of September. They've been booted from a venue they've used several times in the past.
The coffee shop owner says he's totally welcoming, but wants to avoid politics and religion in his business. The event organizer says it's neither political nor religious.
Mike Davis of the local Coffee Party
affiliate, a group that
stresses unity and civility in government regardless of political
leanings, says he'd gotten the go-ahead to host a Coffee Party meeting
at Ge Gee's Cafe
in Bethalto, Ill. The group has met there several times
over the past few months.
"We had arranged to have what I told
the owner of the business was a conversation with a patriotic
Muslim-American," Davis tells the Daily RFT.
"It happened to fall on Sept. 11th. At the time, he had no problem with it."
Davis says, a piece ran in the Alton Telegraph
(which isn't available
online, but we'll post a scan as soon as we get it) and the staff at Ge
Gee's changed their tune.
"The day after the article appeared,
suddenly there was a problem," says Davis, who says he figures it was
pressure from other local businesses, some of whom he says display far-right
slogans on their marquees.
"Not exactly accurate," counters Jim
Allen, the owner of Ge Gee's. Allen says he never read the article in
question, and that Davis asked a staffer about the event, and not Allen
"I didn't want to make a political or religious
statement," Allen says. "I felt that's what that was, being on Sept.
11th. Anyone's welcome to come in and enjoy my restaurant, we welcome
anyone," he says. "When I determined what the intent was, we weren't willing to make a political or religious statement. I requested they find a different venue."
says that Allen's unwillingness to have the event at his venue proves
why it's necessary to have the talk in the first place: "It
demonstrates exactly why I was having the event in the first place.
People have this idea that if you're Muslim, it says something about
The talk will be taking place at Sacred Grounds Cafe in Edwardsville, Ill.