DEARBORN, MICH. - After receiving racial threats directed at him and his daughter, an Arab-American attorney in Dearborn who filed lawsuits against Little Caesars alleging its halal pizza was fraudulent has dropped the cases.
Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and of Arab descent, said he decided to drop the two remaining lawsuits after receiving threats on social media from a man who sent him an instant message on Facebook on Oct. 26 that read: "You better stop your lawsuit against Little Caesars you" followed by an expletive and a racial slur used against Arabs and blacks.
In addition, the man then posted to his Twitter account a tweet with photos of Moughni and family members, including his daughter, that read: "Muslim lawyer who wants to sue #LittleCaesars for $100,000,000 and his wife's Facebook, daughter goes to" followed by the name of a school she attends, according to screenshots taken by Moughni.
Alarmed, Moughni then notified police and filed motions recently to drop the two lawsuits.
On Dec. 4, Wayne County Circuit Judge Annette Berry agreed to dismiss the lawsuits that had been filed against Little Caesars Pizza on behalf of Muslim customers in metro Detroit. They alleged they were sold pizza with pepperoni advertised as halal that was actually regular pepperoni with pork, a food forbidden in Islam.
In September, Wayne County Judge Susan Hubbard threw out the first lawsuit by Moughni against Little Caesars, one of three he filed.
The dismissals this month effectively end a case that drew widespread attention when Moughni filed the lawsuit earlier this year shortly before the start of Ramadan.
Halal is the Muslim equivalent of kosher, a way to process and prepare food in accordance with Islamic beliefs. For example, for meat to be halal, the animal must be slaughtered while an Islamic prayer is recited.
There were two Little Caesars pizza stores in Dearborn that sold halal pepperoni pizza, but after Moughni filed his first lawsuit in May on behalf of customer Michael Bazzi, both stores discontinued it. Employees at both of the Dearborn stores, one on Schaefer Road and another on Outer Drive that used to sell halal, said they no longer do.
"Halal pepperoni was removed from Little Caesars stores," Moughni said. "Justice was served."
Moughni said the threats concerned him.
"It identified my family, my 11-year-old daughter and the school she had attended," Moughni said. "Instead of standing up against the injustice, I had to switch gears and do whatever I could to protect my daughter and any students ... even if that meant walking away from the Little Caesars injustice."
"It's a sad day in America when the resolution to an injustice is terminated by outside threats," he said.
The attorney for Little Caesars, Michael Huget, did not comment. Little Caesars has previously denied the allegations, seeking to get the cases dismissed.
Moughni has reported the threats he received to Dearborn Police, filing a police report. On social media, the man who made the threats describes himself as a "white nationalist," a "homophobe," and a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Moughni said the police officer handling his case told him the man's remarks weren't enough of a threat to bring charges. The officer said he could not comment on the case, referring calls to a media spokesman who could not be reached on Friday for comment.
Moughni said he's disappointed police are not pursuing the case.
For them, "it's not a crime to threaten a Muslim attorney and his family," Moughni said.
The Little Caesars halal case is the latest controversy over corporate chains trying to sell halal products who face criticism the products are not actually halal.
Two McDonald's restaurants in Dearborn used to sell halal Chicken McNuggets, but stopped in 2013 after facing complaints and a lawsuit saying the chicken wasn't prepared in a halal manner. McDonald's agreed to pay $700,000 in a settlement reached over the lawsuit.
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