Edina-based Dairy Queen said a Texas franchisee is giving up ownership of his business after he posted a sign comparing Hindus to monkeys.
Mohammad Dar, who owns a Dairy Queen outlet in Kemah, about 25 miles north of Galveston, has for the past year or so been displaying various signs at his business criticizing Hinduism and other major religions.
One message posted next to the Dairy Queen's roadside sign reads: "Obey, preserve, implement Constitution of the U.S.A. 'NOT' monkey ism of Dark Ages."
Dar told the San Antonio Express-News that he is a longtime U.S. citizen and a Muslim who emigrated from Pakistan. He insisted to the newspaper that he wasn't "putting any human down. … I'm pointing out what's wrong with Hinduism, which is a force of racism."
Dean Peters, spokesman for Dairy Queen, said in the first of two statements that company executives "do not condone this behavior." In the follow-up, Peters said "a change of ownership is anticipated for this location sometime between now and the end of the month. … We expect that this issue will be resolved at that time."
Peters also pointed out that "like the vast majority" of Dairy Queens, the location in Kemah is an independent business that operates under a license from American Dairy Queen Corp.
"The actions and statements of this individual franchisee are not representative of ADQ's corporate values, nor of our iconic family brand," Peters said. "We support and welcome all customers, and expect our franchisees to do the same."
Rajan Zed, of the Universal Society of Hinduism in Reno, Nev., said he's disappointed that Dairy Queen was "shirking from its responsibility by not formally apologizing for allowing these derogatory signs."
The Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the response by Dairy Queen. headquarters. Arsalan Safiullah, the chapter's attorney, said that "while everyone has the right to free speech — even bigoted speech such as displayed at this place of business — all Americans should reject religious intolerance, whatever its source and whichever faith is targeted."