Indian-Origin Celebrity Chef Fired by Dubai Hotel for Tweet Over Islam
Atul Kochhar, who said he was deeply pained by hotel's decision, understood "the difficult position the hotel has been put in" with his now deleted tweet.
The JW Marriot Marquis Hotel in Dubai terminated its contract with chef Atul Kochhar on June 13 after a tweet posted by him over the weekend caused a furor on the social media.
“Following the recent comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him. With the termination of our agreement, Chef Atul will no longer be associated with the restaurant,” Bill Keffer, the general manager of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, said in a statement.
Kochhar called the hotel’s decision “deeply upsetting,” Gulf News reported. “I fully accept the great pain I have caused and the difficult position the hotel has been put in,” he wrote in an emailed statement to the publication, adding, “I hope my friends and well-wishers in Dubai will forgive me and continue to support me in the future.”
The a 48-year-old Michelin star chef had invited public ire on Twitter after he tweeted in response to Priyanka Chopra’s apology over the controversial Quantico episode that showed a Hindu nationalist group plotting a terror attack. “It’s sad to see that you (Priyanka) have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorized by Islam over 2000 years. Shame on You (sic),” Kochhar said in the tweet, that was later deleted by him.
The Indian-origin chef also apologized twice on the social media platform.
His second apology came after netizens pointed out that his first apology sounded like he was saying sorry for the factual inaccuracy in his tweet that he called Islam as being 2,000 years old when it is 1,400 years old.
In his second apology posted on Twitter on June 12, Kochhar said: “I would like to apologize unreservedly to my Muslim friends, the Islamic community and everyone I have offended with my recent tweets. They were insensitive and wrong.”
He further said, “I have let myself and my colleagues down. I am upset and sorry for the pain I have caused and asked for your forgiveness.”
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 12, 2018
In his first apology, he said there was “no justification” for his tweet which was a “major error made in the heat of the moment.”
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
Social media users called for the boycott of Kochhar’s restaurants in the UAE and the United Kingdom while restaurant finder app Halal Gems said that it would drop any restaurant affiliated to Kochhar from its recommendations.
Local media reports also say that Kochhar could be prosecuted for violating the UAE’s strict social media and anti-discrimination laws.