Seven Sisters Beirut Bans Veiled Woman From Entering Because International Football Players Were There


Pic via Daily Star.

It’s perfectly legal for any private institution in the country to pick the clientele it wants to admit, that’s a given. But that doesn’t mean that some practices should go by unchallenged or even accepted just because they are legal, such as Iris banning men under the age of 24 but allowing women, because who knows why?

The Seven Sisters Bar and Grill in Beirut reportedly barred entry (link) for a couple with a veiled woman despite being told, before coming to the place, that they would be allowed to sit at the bar if they arrived between certain hours, which the couple had done.

While trying to negotiate their way into the place, the couple was surprised to see many unveiled women enter without even having their names checked on a reservation list. A recording, according to the Daily Star, saw the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment say: “We’re not allowing anyone with hijab tonight because it’s a special night.”

Find a link to the recording here

The special night they were referring to was a football-themed gathering whereby international football players who were coming to Lebanon for a charity game against Lebanese players were meeting fans for photographs and autographs, among other things.

It seems the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment didn’t want those football players from being exposed to any culture that they probably deem “not fit” for the reputation they want to perpetuate about the country. You know, the reputation where everything everyone does in Lebanon is party and drink and enjoy this joie de vivre everyone believes is what makes Lebanese special.

Guess again.

This kind of discriminatory behavior is appalling  and, quite honestly, will stop people like me – the non-veiled clientele that you want to bring into your establishment – from ever stepping foot there again. You should be ashamed of wanting to hide away essential and predominant figures of Lebanese society in order to paint a fake image for a football player who couldn’t remotely care.

But isn’t this how we do business in this country? We perpetuate fake-ness and masquerade it as authenticity in the belief that the “Western” way is the way to go, essentially annihilating everything about this country that makes it  unique, starting with banning veiled Lebanese women entry to certain restaurants just because “they don’t fit.”

It doesn’t matter if the place served alcohol or pork or any other food that Muslims tend to avoid. The fact that that couple was there willingly meant they were okay with being exposed to whatever it is Seven Sisters offered, and were doing so whole-heartedly. This kind of behavior from the Seven Sisters establishment only serves to further widen the divide between the Lebanon they want to convey and the Lebanon that actually is, one veiled woman being stopped at the door at a time.

So on the night when Luis Figo, Michel Salgado, Carlos Puyol and Roberto Carlos were being pampered left and right by a bar and grill in the heart of Beirut, some Lebanese who may have wanted to see them were falling victims to Islamophobia and prejudice in the heart of a country where Islam is not an anomaly.

Shame on Seven Sister Beirut’s establishment for such derogatory measures. The sad part is they probably couldn’t care less.

The hardships facing veiled women in this country are not only exclusive to being banned from entering certain restaurants. It’s perpetuated to work opportunities whereby some companies would outright refuse applicants just because they’re veiled, to various other aspects of daily Lebanese life that many of us take for granted, which is unfortunate as well as surprising in a country where being veiled isn’t exactly rare. Being non-veiled is beginning to be turned into a privilege. With each passing day, the spectrum of freedom allowed to Lebanese is shrinking.


30 thoughts on “Seven Sisters Beirut Bans Veiled Woman From Entering Because International Football Players Were There

  1. Hello Elie,

    Addressing the rumor that is spreading over the internet regarding the refusal to allow entry to a veiled woman to Seven Sisters, we as 7Management would like to respond with the 4 points below:

    1- The partners at 7Management, the operators of Seven Sisters, come from all races and regions of Lebanon, and would therefore never have any issue towards any religion, race or person, no matter what, our families and friend are as diversified and culturally mixed as our beautiful country.

    2- Seven Sisters is not a restaurant. It’s a lounge bar serving mainly alcohol. As such, our one and only policy with veiled women is to inform them that alcohol is served inside, therefore making sure they are not surprised or offended by the abundant alcohol consumption.

    3- At Seven Sisters, like all clubs, lounges and night clubs in Lebanon, entrance is restricted to people above 21 and upon reservation.

    3- During that particular night when a woman accused us of forbidding entrance to veiled women, there were several veiled women spending the night at Seven Sisters.

    4- Yesterday night, more than 400 people were denied entrance due in particular to the fact that several Football players were spending the evening there, which attracted a large crowd. The person behind the polemic had arrived with a large group of people, and as our bouncers are required to make sure the place never becomes overcrowded as per our strict safety standards, they were denied access based on that fact alone.
    hundreds of unveiled women were also denied entrance as many veiled spent a memorable night inside.

    There was no racial interference, no religious avoidance, no hidden agenda. Far from it. And the result would have been the same whether there had been no veiled women in the group.

    • Honestly this feels like such a generic press release, there is an audio recording procured by the daily star that says you didn’t want veiled people that night because it’s a special night

    • Indeed we will never step over your restaurant ever again, and we will make sure to spread the word of your actions, this country is mixed with all different believes and you dont have the right to enforce certain standards at a certain events just because.

    • That response is cute and civil but it is too little too late, recording made this statement pure BS. Its your establishment you are free to dictate your own rules, but dont be surprised when people react to your prejudice…

    • Hey,
      I’m all for damage control and whatnot as is your right but as Anon said previously this feels nothing more than a paint by numbers response.

      Of course you have people of all backgrounds working for you – I’d be worried if that wasn’t the case, but your response is also non-factual.

      The guy was not there with a large group of people, he was there with his girlfriend.

      There is also an audio recording (link: that shows your reps telling him they’re not admitting veiled women that day.

      Maybe it’s time to just say there was a mistake and not do such practices ever again.

  2. There are now parts of the country where it is forbidden to sell alcohol or pork meat, where you cannot be seen eating a sandwich or drinking in the street on Ramadan, you cannot wear short skirts in the streets, nor wear swimsuits on the beach. Just in the past three weeks, there were several articles in the news about municipalities planning to ban alcohol, forbid women from participating to marathons, and ban a dance festival. There were also attempts by some sheikhs in Saida and Minieh to block bands from playing music in festivals. This is relatively new in Lebanon’s history and is ways much more common and widespread than banning veiled women. However, it does not seem to be a matter of concern for the writer … maybe it is easier and safer to lash-out on intolerance when it comes from secular and non-Muslim people. Worst, maybe by some intellectual process that I am still trying to understand, when in the name of Islam, social coercion should not be considered as such, and must be accepted.

    • ONLY if your memory goes back to 1917. When “Lebanon” (a small part of Shams) had distinct neighborhoods prior to this where Maronites lived in one neighborhood with Maronite laws, Sunnis lived in another neighborhood with Sunni laws, and so forth.

      And that situation was much more tolerant than today. How many civil wars has Lebanon endured in its struggle to force a Muslim majority to kowtow to a Maronite minority? And yes I say minority because Lebanon refuses to conduct another census because that will reveal that this supposed democracy is a group of Maronite elites running the show based on extremely old census data.

      • Where are you living my dear? Power slipped from the hands of the Maronites since the Cairo agreement of 1969 and was transferred to other groups with the Taef agreement. The communitarian system has proven its failure and we need to try something else for sure, but under the Maronites you despise, they were collecting garbage and we had electricity and water. Anyway, this is not what I am talking about here, I am pointing to a growing trend of manipulating the religion into a totalitarian political system and exclusive social order that does not leave any room for diversity. Is your happy with it, good for you, but I am not.

  3. What is a veiled woman doing at a bar that serves alcohol ? And for the writer of the article I don’t think anyone considers being veiled a sign of “culture”. More likely a sign of backwardness as it’s not even mandated by the religion. Just as KSA will inforce hijab on all women regardless of their religion, the bar has the right to enforce a civilized dress code on the clientele.

    • Funny that you ask what was she doing at a bar and at the same time call yourself a free thinker! She was doing just that: being free. Now go live with it and do change your name please

    • Funny that you ask what was she doing at a bar and at the same time call yourself a free thinker! She was doing just that: being free. Now go live with it and do change your name please.

    • Fee Thinker, I think you need a lobotomy in order to be able to think logically.

      Why does a Lebanese Muslim woman have to do with Saudi? We live in a “democracy” where people can dress the way they want.

    • Dear ‘Free Thinker’, it’s not for me to comment on what the veiled woman was doing at the bar, that’s her personal choice and freedom. I will comment, however, on your blatantly ignorant assumptions regarding veiled women in general. We live in the year 2016 buddy. We’ve come a long way from thinking that something as simple as dress code can define a person.

      How can you possibly know any concrete information about a person’s civility or lack thereof from their dress? And what is ‘civility’ anyways? In my opinion, the greatest civility is being open-minded to people and ideas and not being an arrogant person who alienates others. In fact, open-mindedness would serve in your own interest primarily, because you could learn a thing or two about the world.

      I wear the veil myself, so would you dismiss me as backward-thinking while actually knowing nothing about me if you saw me on the street? Well then, I suppose you can continue to do that, you are free after all. I can continue working in clinical research at an esteemed research institution where people are wonderfully inclusive and know what is most important in life. And while I work on finding cures to those diseases that plague humans regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or civility for that matter, you can continue to wallow in your own backwardness and hate. That said, I hope you don’t choose to do that and that you have a change of heart.

  4. Six things you need to know about this:

    1- The visitor was a journalist. Me.
    2- He has the recording that might be published soon.
    3- The girl with the headscarf is NOT Lebanese- ironically enough.
    4- The SS’s statement is far from true. It kills facts and is full of contradiction.
    5- The players come from countries where it is scandalous to prevent veiled women from entering a bar.
    6- Paul Scholes, he scores goals!!

    • Actually from a “Western” legal perspective, restaurants cannot “impose their own rules”. Sure, they might be private enterprises, but as places of commerce they are subject to a certain amount of regulation. While it goes without saying that they have to properly abide by contract law (ie. they should act in good faith, fulfill their contracts, honor their implied and expressed warranties, practice truth in advertising, etc.), they also cannot violate their customers’ civil rights by discriminating against them on the basis of their religion! While yes, on the basis of propriety a restaurant might be able to impose a dress code like no caps, torn jeans, sneakers or whatever, a “no hijab” rule would be unconstitutional because it would curtail a woman’s first amendment right to freely practice her religion!

  5. This is borderline absurd!
    A woman wears the hijab because she is a “multazima” religiously. It’s interesting that she is going to a place that serves alcohol. By what religious logic, she can’t remove her veil but can drink alcohol.
    Maybe the real question is whether this was a staged incidence. And the author trying to get on the bandwagon of cheap attention seeking. The author needs to step out of his elitist bubble, travel around Lebanon and then report back.

    • Googled “multazima” and apparently it means “committed and conformist” so at least you’re not resorting to the generalized and dreadfully hackneyed “coerced against her free will” argument that is so often used to criticize the wearing of the hijab.

      Here’s the thing: No disinterested bystander can prove beyond a reasonable doubt on a rudimentary glance that a woman wearing a hijab is doing so against her will. Even worse, it’s morally hazardous and indisputably unethical to try to force a woman to take off her hijab on the unsubstantiated, mere premise and suspicion that it was forced on in the first place.

      Besides, this entire line of reasoning is rendered moot in this particular case because by presenting herself for admission to an alcohol-serving establishment, the hijab-wearing customer in question is simultaneously demonstrating that not only is she quite capable of acting out of free will, but she’s also not necessarily fully compliant with the austere, Islamic ideal.

      First amendment religious freedoms outside the home and place of worship are usually resolved on the basis of “reasonable accommodation”. If all this woman is asking for is to be allowed into the premises while wearing her hijab, that is entirely reasonable. If she starts asking for more, like say being allowed to unfurl a rug and kneel toward Mecca at prayer-time, then the restaurant will be justified in arguing that providing the facility for her to do so would be an unreasonable accommodation!

      And lastly, on whether this was all just an attention-seeking stunt and sensationalist reporting, it’s impossible to tell right now because we’re dealing with a sample size of only 1. To truly discern an unmistakable trend, we’d need a larger sample size. Cases of discrimination are relatively easy to investigate. Just gather a group of people you think are being discriminated against and direct them toward to the place where you think it’s happening, and record whatever ensues…

  6. It is not about the fact that she is “moultazima” or not,it is the fact thay they denied her entrance due solely to her dress code. Some people look at all the veiled women and think that they are all the same, thinking that they know her and everything about her and her life because of her hijab. And if this were indeed a staged incident i’m glad it happened because it shined the light on this subject and anomalie that’s growing exponenatially

  7. two point of views were expressed in the comment section .and both sides have mentioned a solution and a problem.first ,you cannot deny a woman wearing a hijab from entering the establishment ,we live in a multi cultural society .and whether she drinks alcohol or is still her choice.but on the other hand,some muslim political parties are imposing some restrictions on the way you look or what to drink and how to live in their areas where they practice their authority as if this country belongs to them and they are dictating their own rules and make things worse,some fanatics will impose their religious edicts by force and violence .

  8. I find scandalous that people think a veiled woman can’t/mustn’t enter a place where alcohol is served. Does that mean she can’t enter a supermarket that sells alcohol as well? Or stop visiting her doctor because he/she drinks alcohol? The couple were there to see the players. Simple as. The girl is half foreigner, funnily enough. She comes from a country where people don’t distinguish. She comes from a country where there is no difference between a veiled and unveiled women at bars/beaches/work etc.. What’s wrong with people condoning this discriminatory behaviour!!!? Have they never heard of something called ”choice”?

    • and do you have the choice to drink alcohol, kiss in public, go to the beach, give political opinions in arab gulf countries? no don’t talk about choice. its wrong to ban the woman but common, they are a 1000 times worst.

  9. What is a veiled woman doing in a bar like seven sisters?!
    I am veiled and I don’t even think about visiting such places! We choose to limit ourselves with some religious rules and we should like it and respect it!

    • Maybe it’s none of your business? Or maybe you need to read again? Or maybe this thinking is more dangerous than what happened?


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