Wichita, Kansas, knows how to stand up to bigotry.
Mohamad Krichati owns a popular restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. And earlier this month, he lost a loyal customer of nine years.
Apparently, Bruce Gilder did not appreciate that Krichati practices Islam — a fact Gilder learned one day after dining at Le Monde Café and Deli.
“So much for eating here ever again,” he wrote in a Facebook post, which has since been deleted.
In his post, Gilder explained that he couldn’t support a Muslim-owned local business.
Krichati — who lives in San Diego, where he serves in the U.S. military as an engineer — is as patriotic as they come.
So he found it a bit jarring to be compared to a terrorist simply because he’s Muslim — and especially by such a loyal patron.
“I feel like I’m home,” Krichati said, noting that — although he lives in California — he visits Wichita all the time. His brother-in-law, Ghassan Hajeh, oversees the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. “I’ve been in this country for 30 years.”
But Gilder’s anti-Muslim post did not go unnoticed. And it didn’t take long for the Midwest community to rally behind Le Monde either.
A Facebook event, “Support Le Monde Day,” was created to encourage folks to dine at the restaurant despite the Islamophobic post.
Interest poured in from around town, with hundreds of diners flocking to Le Monde, hoping to support the restaurant and its owner (also, the delicious hummus and tasty gyros they serve probably didn’t hurt either).
“The whole week was very, very busy,” Krichati told Upworthy, noting how touched he’s been by the turnout. The restaurant also received letters, cards, and flowers from supporters.
The online event was flooded with encouraging messages for Le Monde too:
“We did our part to support Le Monde tonight, and the food was fabulous, as always!”
“It makes me feel humble and proud to see the small town love in a big city like Wichita.”
“Ghassan is a genuinely kind man. I was honored to have a few minutes to visit with him. I’m proud of his success and thrilled with the outpouring of support!”
For what it’s worth, Gilder — who said the media is “misrepresenting” his stance — is sticking by his Facebook post.
“How I went about things probably wasn’t the best,” he admitted to Upworthy, noting he hadn’t meant to post the message on the restaurant’s page — only his personal account.
He’s also bothered by reports saying he “stormed” out of the restaurant upon learning about Krichati’s faith — Gilder said he left peacefully after giving a generous tip to his server.
But he stands behind his post’s underlying message.
“Bottom line is, I consider myself a vigilant patriot,” he explained, claiming Islam “appeals to the worst of humanity,” and it’s less of a religion and “more of a political system to control people.”
Krichati, however, isn’t wasting any energy caring about this one man’s (dramatically distorted) view of his religion.
After all, his Kansas neighbors have his back.
“We thank the whole Wichita community for supporting us and knowing that business has nothing to do with religion,” Krichati said. “We support America.”
This post may be updated with additional information.