There are many good reasons to buy a cake (birthday, wedding, a day of work so hard that all you can think of is jamming your entire fist into three layers of heavy buttercream) and very few good reasons to cancel a cake order. Among those, the worst reason to reach out and tell the owner of the bakery you’ve ordered a cake from someone else is because they’re Muslim. But that’s exactly what happened to Zeinab Mohamed who owns SweetcakeZ in Michigan.
According to Mohamed, she received an incredibly unpleasant message from a woman who said her husband wouldn’t let her buy a cake from a Muslim because he’s a veteran who fought against “your people” in Iraq.
Hey actually were [sic] going to order our cake somewhere else my husband just found out your [sic] Muslim. And I’m not against it but he is because he was in Iraq fighting for our country against your people. He even changed his new doctor because the new one he was referred to was Muslim and he just said somethings [sic] and said he doesnt [sic] feel comfortable having you make our cake. I’m so sorry
First of all: excellent justification and back-up evidence! The most interesting part of which, of course, is that the woman sending the message is apologizing and also trying to make Mohamed feel better (ostensibly) by letting her know that it’s not just her that the husband hates for being Muslim. He hates all Muslims, including doctors and, probably, teachers. Why, he’d probably get off a city bus if he suspected that the driver was a Muslim, because you know, he wouldn’t feel ‘comfortable.’
Second of all: Mohamed’s not even from Iraq, she’s from Somalia, which highlights not only the cruel bigotry in this message, but also reminds us that Islamophobia is a real thing. People like the customer’s husband don’t care who you are or where you’re from, they just hear an Arabic-sounding name and they are done. It doesn’t even matter if the person with that name also served in The United States military. Like Mohamed’s husband, who spent three years serving overseas and who’s also painfully hurt by the message.
“I remember when I was working at Andrews Air Force Base, we lost one guy on Christmas Day as he actually landed back in the states” said Borst [Mohamed’s husband]. “I was holding his hand, you know? We both had our dog tags showing because it was hot and it was very busy. We’re unloading him and he’s holding my hand and to think that none of that mattered, no one’s religious identity mattered. All that mattered was you were brothers and family. I was hurt because that’s not the broader view. I was just really let down that that could actually happen.”
Mohamed won’t be releasing the name of the woman who sent her the note, but she wanted to take the message public because it’s not about one person canceling an order, it’s about a pattern of thinking that will continue perpetually if people don’t speak out.
“The problem isn’t so much the person, it’s the message they’re portraying” said Mohamed. “I feel like unless we deal with the message, there will continue to be another person that will say the same thing. There will maybe be hundreds more that feel the same way that this person feels if we don’t fix what the message is.”
The silver lining is that the SweetcakeZ Facebook page has been flooded with positive messages of solidarity.
Sidenote: The cakes Mohamed bakes look pretty damn spectacular.