Dubai-based JW Marriot hotel has distanced itself from celebrity chef Atul Kochhar’s hateful tweet for Islam and Muslims. Responding to the global condemnation against the Michelin Star chef, Dubai’s JW Marriot Marquis responded, “We are aware of the comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar. We would like to stress that we do not share the same views as stated in the remark, nor is it a representation of the culture of diversity and inclusion that we pride ourselves on at the hotel.”
Kochhar has an Indian restaurant Rang Mahal at the JW Marriot Marquis in Dubai. Calls have been growing for the boycott of both JW Marriot and Rang Mahal. According to the Khaleej Times, UAE residents have also called for the sacking of the bigoted chef for anti Islam tweets and boycotting of his restaurant.
A popular Halal restaurant finder App too has removed Kochhar’s London-based restaurant, Benares, from its website and mobile app. In its statement, Halal Gems wrote, “We are disappointed to see Chef Atul Kochhar’s message judging Islam to be ‘terrorising’, especially since his restaurants benefit from Muslim clientele and Muslim pound. Sadly, this is not the only case of people with bigoted views actively soliciting income from Muslim consumers.”
The statement went on to add, “Halal Gems believes that we deserve better. To this end we have removed Benares from our Restaurant Finder and from guides where we had listed Benares as a recommendation.We will not be promoting any restaurants associated with Atul Kochhar.”
Atul Kochhar exposed as anti-Islam bigot
Kochhar has been at the centre of a raging controversy after he stunned his fans with his anti-Islam views in the aftermath of the Priyanka Chopra’s Quantico row.
Right-wing Hindus had launched a concerted campaign against Priyanka and even called for a boycott of products endorsed by the actor. Faced with the raging controversy, the makers of Quantico, ABC Studio, had apologised to Indians. This was then followed by an apology from Priyanka.
The statement by Walt Disney-owned ABC said, “The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn’t create the show, nor does she write or direct it. The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone.”
Priyanka was more direct and explicit with her sorry when she tweeted, “I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I’m a proud Indian and that will never change.”
While many felt that Priyanka shouldn’t have apologised since she had no role in deciding the story line, one reaction to her apology that stunned everyone was from Kochhar, who launched a blistering attack against Islam. Calling Islam a religion of terror, Kochhar wrote, “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.”
Kochhar’s reaction triggered a huge wave of online reaction as Muslims across the globe began to condemn Kochhar for his hate towards Islam and its followers. One user Baba Global wrote, “People like @atulkochhar are polished, urban, educated, English-speaking, liberal posturing, your best friends, your colleague, your business partners. In the political climate of Trump & Modi, these folks don’t take a lot of time in giving us a sneak peak into their real self.”
Another user Zaeem highlighted the irony of Kochhar harbouring hate for Islam and Muslims but earning his livelihood from his restaurant in UAE, a Muslim nation. He wrote, “Poor @atulkochhar. Terrorized by Islam for 2000 years, hence opened a restaurant in Dubai . Shame on us all.”
Realising the consequences of his bigotry and open racism, Kochhar was quick to apologise not for his bigotry, but for ‘factual inaccuracies.’ He wrote, “There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of the moment on Sunday. I fully recognise 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.”
Interestingly, he has deleted his original tweet expressing hatred for Islam although his subsequent ‘apology’ remains. There were many who pointed out Kochhar’s hypocrisy even in his so-called apology. British Asian columnist Sunny Hundal wrote, “What are you sorry about? Your views on Muslims? You blame Muslims for victiming Hindus for 2000 years (apparently!). But you’re happy to make money off them in Dubai. And you have no problems against the British, who killed more Hindus during the Raj?”
Racism is a crime in UK, where Kochhar resides and reportedly holds the nationality of. In the absence of an explicit apology, some Muslim groups are reportedly contemplating legal actions against him in the UK.