The last two days have been tough for Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, who found himself in the middle of a raging controversy after an anti-Islamic comment he made, in response to Priyanka Chopra’s Quantico debacle.
Social media users slammed Atul for his insensitive remark, following which two apologies were made but the debate refused to die. The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has now decided to terminate Chef Atul Kochhar’s contract with the famous Indian fine dining restaurant Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar. Read their statement here:
The Michelin-starred chef had apologised again on Tuesday (June 12) for his controversial tweets about Islam made on Sunday (June 10) that resulted in a huge outcry followed by calls for boycott of his restaurants. This is the second apology that Kochhar has issued in the last two days about the massive controversy.
The brouhaha started when Kochhar slammed Priyanka Chopra for not ‘respecting sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam for 2000 years’, adding ‘Shame on You’. This was in response to her episode on Quantico where Hindu nationalists were shown as terrorists. The tweets were later deleted but not before they were shared widely by Twitter users in the UAE and outside.
Angry fans called for boycott of his restaurants Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai and Benaras in Dubai and London. Twitter was flooded with remarks expressing outrage and shock over the comments. Several users threatened to stop patronising his restaurants. Many also criticised him for working in a Muslim country while spreading negative messages about Islam. London based halal restaurant finder app Halal Gems announced that they would not promote any restaurant associated with the Michelin-starred chef. Founder Zohra Khaku said she was disappointed to see Kochhar’s message, especially since his restaurants benefit from Muslim clientele. “Sadly this is not the only case of people with bigoted views actively soliciting income from Muslim customers,” she said in a statement.
Atul Kochhar immediately issued an apology, where he acknowledged his error and confessed that the comments were made in the 'heat of the moment'. He also said he was not Islamophobic and that he had erred when he suggested the religion was founded 1400 years ago.
Unfortunately, the move backfired as it was seen by users that he was sorry for getting his facts wrong and not apologetic about his views.
Realising the gravity of the issue, the hotel was forced to distance themselves from the comments. However, social media users still were not convinced and demanded further action. Some social media users also pointed out that the hotel had been receiving a huge volume of calls protesting against the remarks. The current action by the hotel is being seen as a result of the outrcy.