'Death to Islam' signs boosting business at West York bar
WEST YORK, PA. — The Other Place has been a neighborhood hotspot for decades, but a sign recently posted on the front window is drawing accusations of hate.
The sign says "Death to Islam" and it's echoed by two similar signs inside the bar. Bar staff say the two interior signs went up right after 9/11, and they've been there since 2001.
The outdoor sign went up more recently.
The bar is owned by Jeff Seitz. Bar staff say he's a veteran who wants to show support for the military by posting the signs.
"I don't condemn the man and I don't think he's doing anything wrong," says customer Carroll Waltimyer, who said he personally wouldn't have chosen to display the sign. "That sign could mean a lot of things."
A customer posted a photo of the sign on Facebook, saying it's hateful. Staff say since the signs began getting attention last week, they've seen an increase in business.
Local Muslim chaplain Rick Ramos defended the bar owner's right to freedom of speech. The First Amendment does not make an exception for hate speech, so it is protected.
"What him and his supporters need to note is the same Constitution that guarantees him the right to the freedom of speech, also guarantees Americans the right to the freedom of religion," says Ramos. "To try to just think that somehow, Islam is going to disappear or that there will be the death of Islam is just unreasonable. I think that Muslims and Islam are now a permanent part of the American landscape and I don't think that's going to change."
While some customers have said they don't like the signs before, and left the bar in protest, they say others have asked them not to take the signs down. There are no plans to remove them.
"This is just an unfortunate situation that they tried to disguise it as patriotism, but in reality when you move the mask away, it's hate speech, it's bigotry," says Ramos.
Ramos says he believes some people mistake Islam for Al Qaeda and ISIS, extremist terrorist groups.
"There's a lot bigger issues for us to be focusing on than just this sign in the window of a bar," he adds.