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Indian-origin chef in Dubai sacked for anti-Islam post after Quantico Hindu terror episode

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Internationally-renowned chef Atul Kochhar faced a backlash on Twitter, as many pointed out that he was working in a Muslim country while writing against Islam.

New Delhi: The controversy over the Hindu terror episode in the US TV series Quantico claimed a celebrity chef of Indian-origin Wednesday. The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai announced that it had sacked Atul Kochhar, the chef at the hotel’s popular Rang Mahal restaurant, following his tweet criticising Islam Sunday.

In a statement to a Dubai news outlet, the general manager of the hotel, Bill Keffer, said, “Following the recent comments made by chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal. With the termination of our agreement, chef Atul will no longer be associated with the restaurant.”

According to report in the Arab News, a website based out of the UAE, the controversy started when Kochhar in a now-deleted tweet on Sunday said, “It’s sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam over 2000 years. Shame on you”.

He was responding to an apology put out by actress Priyanka Chopra for the Quantico episode.

Screenshot of the deleted tweet | Arab News
Screenshot of the deleted tweet | Arab News

The celebrity chef immediately faced a backlash on Twitter, with many pointing out that he was working in a Muslim country while slamming Islam.

Along with criticism, Twitterati called for a boycott of his restaurant, Rang Mahal, and urged the hotel authorities to fire him.

As the issue gained traction, the higher management at the Marriott also apologised on social media saying they don’t share or endorse the views of the chef.

 Could have legal repercussions

According to UAE social media laws, online comments promoting racism or factionalism, especially with regard to Islam and Muslims, constitute a criminal offence and Kochhar can be prosecuted in this regard.

Anyone breaking the UAE’s anti-discriminatory law could face imprisonment of up to five years and charged a fine of anything between 5,00,000 dirhams and 1 million dirhams.

The law also holds the employers responsible for such offences committed by their employees, and Article 17 under the law allows for the representative, manager or agent of the company to be punished with the same penalties, provided he or she is aware of the crime committed by the company personnel.

Apology under fire

Under fire, Kochhar posted an apology on Twitter Monday.

“There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of moment on Sunday. I fully recognize my inaccuracies that Islam was founded around 1,400 years ago and I sincerely apologise. I am not Islamophobic, I deeply regret my comments that have offended many.”

https://twitter.com/atulkochhar/status/1006099306590474240

It didn’t cut ice with some social media users who accused Kochhar of being insincere.

https://twitter.com/IamAshwinNaik/status/1006458433657233409

The chef then issued another apology to the Muslim community Tuesday.

https://twitter.com/atulkochhar/status/1006587584179564544

Despite the apology, netizens weren’t happy and constant demands were made for the hotel to sack Kochhar.

https://twitter.com/SamKhan999/status/1006210419277508608

Born in India, Kochhar is the author of three best-selling cookery books and a chef.

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