Muslim businessman accuses yacht club of discrimination

A Muslim businessman and his wife are suing a Connecticut yacht club on allegations club board members rejected their membership application because of their religion and falsely claimed they supported terrorism.

Kamran Farid, a co-founder the fruit bouquet business Edible Arrangements, and his wife, Kara, sued the Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club in Branford in state Superior Court in August, alleging discrimination, racism and bigotry. They're seeking a court order for the club to stop discriminating, undisclosed damages and a suspension of the club's permit to sell alcohol.

Officials at the club deny the allegations, according to Farid's lawyer, Chris Nelson. Officials at the club and the club's lawyer, William Murrary, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Farid, 38, an American citizen who moved with his family to Connecticut from their native Pakistan in 1980 when he was 2, said he, his wife and their children became provisional members of the club in July 2013. The club, which was a short drive from their shoreline home in Branford, converted provisional members into regular members after two years, he said.

But in July of last year, Farid said he received a letter from the club saying his membership was ending and he was no longer allowed on club property. He said no reason was given.

"It hurt. My daughters were hurt," he said Tuesday. "I didn't know what to say to my kids. That hurt me more than anything, to sit there and explain to my kids they can't play with their friends and they can't go there anymore."

Farid said he would later find out — through friends at the club and a court order for club documents — that some members of the club had urged the club board to reject his family's membership. Some members made derogatory and racially insensitive comments about the Farids' religion and national origin, including false accusations that the family supported terrorism, according to the lawsuit.

Farid said the allegation he supported terrorism through charitable contributions to Islamic groups first surfaced when he joined the club in 2013 and was quickly debunked.

He said his main goal with the lawsuit is to prevent what happened to his family from happening to others.

"At the end of the day, it's just not right that this club can continue to do this to people," he said.

Farid, his wife and four children now live most of the year in Reunion, Florida, and spend the summers at their Branford home.