The owner of Urth Caffe has hired a law firm to counter allegations by a group of Muslim women that they were thrown out of his Laguna Beach restaurant because of discrimination.

Shallom Berkman confirmed Wednesday he retained the American Freedom Law Center after a civil rights lawsuit was filed by seven women this week in Orange County Superior Court. He did not offer details, referring questions to his attorneys. The law center has previously represented private businesses that have sought to create so-called "Muslim-free" zones.

David Yerushalmi, the law center's co-founder and senior counsel, called the women's lawsuit "a fraud and a hoax." He said the cafe's owners plans to countersue.

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