MONROVIA, Montserrado – The government of Liberia announced the reopening of Sajj House, a Lebanese owned restaurant on 18th street, Sinkor.
According to a Ministry of Information release, the tourism license of the restaurant which was suspended last Friday has been restored following the business’ compliance with the government’s demands as a punitive measure for discriminating against single black women.
The government on Friday evening ordered the immediate closure of the restaurant following hours of protest by men and women calling for the change of what they say was a discriminatory policy practiced by the business.
The assistant minister for tourism, Princess Turkolon, told journalists following a brief discussion with Sajj’s management that the decision to close down the restaurant was triggered by growing complaints that it was discriminating against black women.
The protest was sparked by three young Liberian women who reported that they were discriminated against at the restaurant by denying them entry because they were black women who were not accompanied by males. However, many other victims disclosed that the discrimination existed for nearly a decade.
The protestors read a petition demanding an official public apology from the restaurant management and an official announcement in print, radio, and posted on the restaurant’s premises acknowledging the discriminatory policy against women was now abolished and indicating the new measures that will replace the current “disruptive policy.”
They also demanded that the management of the restaurant institute a corporate social responsibility project of not less than US$2,500 to identify and support a local NGO that works with disadvantaged young women in the country.
In an official statement confirming the minister’s pronouncement, the tourism department demanded Sajj’s management to adhere to the women’s demand. The ministry added that as part of the preconditions to restoring the tourism license of the restaurant and its subsequent reopening, the management of Sajj were also required to pay a fine of US$3,000 into government’s revenue.
In its apology statement published in two daily newspapers on Tuesday, the restaurant apologized to its clients for what says was a “control policy gone wrong.”
“Suffice to say that we are sorry for all the wrong and embarrassment suffered in the past and promise to remedy the situation effective immediately,” it says.
Sajj said it regrets the incident and promised to do everything within its powers to remedy the situation.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information said the restaurant had substantially complied with its demands, thus leading to the decision to restore the business’ tourism license and have it reopened.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah