Invercargill, New Zealand - Cafe Owner Apologizes to Israelis
Invercargill, New Zealand - An Invercargill cafe owner who last month refused to serve two Israeli women because of their nationality has apologised for his actions and welcomed them back into his establishment.
Mevlana Cafe owner Mustafa Tekinkaya told Southland-based Israeli woman Natalie Bennie and her visiting sister Tamara Shefa to leave his cafe last month.
A Turkish Muslim, he said Israelis weren’t welcome in his Esk St cafe until Israel stopped killing innocent women and babies in the Gaza Strip.
His actions caused widespread condemnation in New Zealand and abroad but Mrs Bennie yesterday said Mr Tekinkaya had apologised to her in person at a neutral Invercargill venue on Wednesday.
He had also told her she was welcome back into his cafe, she said.
“To be honest, I probably will go if I am with my husband or someone like that.”
It was a relief to finally resolve the issue, she said.
“After meeting him in person, he is just a human being like the rest of us. Everyone trips up every so often and I suppose I am just hoping that was a trip-up.”
Mr Tekinkaya had also apologised to her and her sister, who had returned to Israel, by letter, she said.
Mrs Bennie would not reveal the other outcomes of the month-long negotiations, mediated by the Human Rights Commission, saying she was bound by a confidentiality clause.
The past month had been stressful but she said she was grateful for the support that had flooded in from the public in the form of cards and phone calls.
Mr Tekinkaya’s wife, Joanne, yesterday said they would not be commenting.
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