Atul Kochhar, the celebrity chef who is in the centre of a massive row over an alleged Islamophobic tweet, has been fired by the hotel he worked for in Dubai.
Michelin-starred Kochhar operated the award-winning Rang Mahal Indian restaurant at Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel. In a statement issued on 13 June, the hotel said that it has snapped all ties with the chef following the outburst over a tweet he posted as a response to Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra.
In its statement, JW Marriot Marquis Hotel 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.”
“At the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai we pride ourselves on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion for our guests and associates across the hotel and our restaurants. We also remain committed to delivering the traditional culinary experience and high service standards that Rang Mahal is renowned for,” it added.
Kochhar had on 10 June responded to Chopra’s apology over the controversy generated following a recent episode of ‘Quantico’ which presented Hindus in a negative light.
“It’s sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam over 2,000 years. Shame on You,” he wrote. The chef deleted his tweet a day later after people took umbrage to his allegedly Islamophobic remark. He also issued an apology.
“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,” 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.
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 11, 2018
On 12 June, he again issued an apology.
“I would like to apologise unreservedly to my Muslim friends, the Islamic community and everyone I have offended with my recent tweets. They were insensitive and wrong.
My work and my restaurants are defined by a passion to unite cultures through food, love and understanding. I have let myself and my colleagues down. I am upset and sorry for the pain I have caused and ask for your forgiveness,” he wrote in a statement.
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 12, 2018
On 11 June, JW Marriott Marquis had disassociated itself from Kochhar’s alleged Islamophobic remarks.
“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,” the Hotel posted on Twitter.
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.
— JW Marriott Marquis (@JWDubaiMarquis) June 11, 2018
Not pleased with the hotel’s stand, demands for Atul Kochhar’s sacking grew eventually leading to Wednesday’s decision.
Arab News reported that Kocchar might face prosecution under the strict anti-discriminatory laws in the UAE.
“Online comments found to be spreading sectarian hate or racism, especially in connection with Islam and Muslims, are a criminal offense and the chef can be prosecuted,” reported Arab News.
But in spite of the severity of Kochhar’s remarks, there were many who extended their support to Kochhar’s freedom of expression and objected to the possibility of his prosecution.
Hi @atulkochhar if at all you lose your job for your views, do come over to India and setup an eatery restaurant, 5 star or whatever u wish to and I assure you frm my side, I will have food atleast once at ur place/month. Let’s see how many here are willing this way. 🙂
— Ashu😎 (@muglikar_) June 12, 2018
Liberal hypocrisy at its best.
JW Marriott, Dubai, terminates Indian origin chef, Atul Kochhar who operated an award-winning, Indian restaurant, in their property. The reason is, he criticised Islamist terror.
Indian liberals who are all for freedom of expression, enjoy it.
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) June 13, 2018
Full support to Atul Kochhar and shame on those who hounded him. I don’t expect liberals to stand up for his FOE but those of us who support FOE in real sense should show support https://t.co/0PnbRyAcY0
— Sunanda Vashisht (@sunandavashisht) June 12, 2018
Poor Atul Kochhar can’t even complain about India having to face invaders for 1300 years and terrorist attacks in recent decades. In 20 years, Yezidis who write about their own history will be called Islamophobic and blacklisted.
— Nayanika (@nayanikaaa) June 12, 2018
— Ashu😎 (@muglikar_) June 12, 2018