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Bahrain closes Indian restaurant for denying entry to woman in a hijab

Authorities launch investigation after viral video claims customer in headscarf was not allowed to enter popular Manama eatery
Lanterns Bahrain, a popular restaurant in the country's capital, was closed after reportedly refusing entry to a woman in a hijab (Instagram/Lanterns Bahrain)

Bahrain has reportedly closed an Indian restaurant in Manama after it allegedly refused entry to a woman wearing hijab. 

Lanterns Bahrain, a popular eatery in the Adliya neighbourhood of the Bahraini capital, closed after the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority launched an investigation into a viral video claiming staff had blocked a woman in a headscarf from entering, according to a report in The Daily Tribune.

On Friday, a video of a woman explaining that her friend had been turned away was widely shared on social media. 

“The restaurant Lanterns is telling her you cannot enter because you are wearing a hijab. Can you imagine?” the woman said. “The restaurants should not be making these types of decisions, because we are in a Muslim country.” 

On Saturday, the restaurant posted a statement on Instagram addressing the incident. 

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“Everyone is welcome to Lanterns, which is how it has been for more than 35 years that we have been serving all nationalities in the beautiful kingdom of Bahrain,” it said.

“Lanterns is a place for everyone to come enjoy with their families and feel at home. In this instance, a mistake has been made by a manager who is now being suspended as this does not represent who we are.” 

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It went on to say that customers were welcome to dine at the restaurant on Tuesday free of charge, as a goodwill gesture.

Middle East Eye wrote to the restaurant for comment but didn't receive a reply before publication.

Several social media users took the opportunity to link the incident with recent bans on students wearing hijabs in schools in the Indian region of Karnataka. 

However, a Twitter account which claims to belong to the woman who posted the initial viral video said that the staff member who sparked the incident was British, and not Indian. 

The tourism authority called on all companies to adhere to regulations and not enforce policies that violate Bahraini laws. 

“We reject all actions that discriminate against people, especially regarding their national identity,” it said, adding that the restaurant had been closed down based on a decree which regulates tourism retailers including restaurants and hotels.

The authority said that it would now pursue legal action, and urged members of the public to report any similar occurrences. 

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