Gilmer community condemning racist comments targeting Muslim woman

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GILMER, Texas (KETK) A Facebook post made by a Gilmer businesswoman has sparked outrage on social media, along with the termination of her membership to the Chamber of Commerce.

The woman identified on social media as the owner of Market Bistro and Ladyfingers Cakes, Lisa Gaines, posted to her personal Facebook the post below, but has since taken it down.

Since the posting this past weekend, Gaines has taken down the Ladyfingers Cakes Facebook page, as well as her own.

Once learning of the Facebook post, the Gilmer Chamber of Commerce board of directors met Thursday afternoon to discuss the status of her membership.

In the end, they did decide to terminate her membership, and released the following statement:

“The Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce sincerely apologizes to Ruwan Alkam and her family for the behavior of a chamber member.

The Gilmer chamber does not support the exclusion of any race or religion nor do we condone or control the beliefs or actions of the members of the chamber. In no way does this reflect the views or the beliefs of the chamber.

After discussion, the board of directors have decided to terminate the business owner’s membership in accordance with Article II of the chamber bylaws.

After careful consideration Gilmer chamber has decided to schedule a diversity training workshop for its members and the community.”

GLIMER AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The woman at the center of the controversy took to her own Facebook page to express her frustration.

She says that she was not familiar with Gilmer, but wanted to take one of her children.

After explaining why she wanted to go to Gilmer, Ruwan Alkam explains that she did not consent to the photo that was taken of her and she was very frustrated and devastated at the post that was made about her.

“I’m just a mom trying to do my best like everyone else is,” she writes in her Facebook post.

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-DFW) has since joined the Gilmer community in showing their support for Alkam.

“No one should be targeted by hate, especially a mother taking her children to a public festival. Such comments are hateful, Islamophobic and go against American values of diversity and religious inclusion.”

 FAIZAN SYED, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CAIR-DFW

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. Syed says only in acts of people coming together will we ever see a solution.

That is what happened in Gilmer on Thursday. Business owners, unrelated to Gaines, banding together to show their support for Alkam.

“We present a love offering for this family for them to know they are always welcome here, always were, always will be.”

BRANDY FERRER, SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS AND MORE

Local businesses like Simply Beautiful Flowers and More, the Trendy Kat, Uncle Joe’s, and many more, combined items from their stores into a basket for Alkam. A token of friendship and symbol of unity.

The community wants others to know, one person’s opinion is not a reflection of them, that Gilmer has way more to offer, not only to its people but all people.

We dropped off our contact information to Gaines’ business today, asking if she would like to comment or recant her previous comments. She has not responded.

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