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Hotel terminates ties with celebrity chef after tweet

GDN Online Desk

A hotel in Dubai has cut ties with Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar following a tweet that caused outrage on social media amid accusations of racism, bigotry and Islamophobia.

The celebrity chef operated the award-winning Rang Mahal Indian restaurant at Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.

"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," Bill Keffer, general manager of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai said in an emailed statement to Gulf News tabloid!.

"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."

On Tuesday, Kochhar issued a second apology 48 hours after his tweet to actress Priyanka Chopra.

In the statement issued on his Twitter timeline, Kochhar reached out to his "Muslims friends" and the "Islamic community and everyone I have offended", calling his words "insensitive and wrong".

Kochhar faced the wrath of social media users after he called out Chopra on Twitter, who had posted an apology of her own on her timeline for causing offence by a recent episode of her TV show "Quantico" that portrayed a Hindu nationalist group as terrorists.

In Kochhar’s now deleted tweet, the chef responded to Chopra’s mea culpa, stating: "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."

Following the swift online backlash that followed, Kochhar retracted the tweet and called it a "major error made in the heat of the moment", while further adding: "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."

However, social media was not so forgiving, with many calling out the chef once again for his choice of words in his apology, with Twitter user Masarat Daud posting: "@atulkochhar has apologised for getting the Islamic date wrong, but not for his bigotry…"

"When I saw your tweet, I didn’t even notice 2000, I noticed dehumanising bigotry… but your apology focused on 2000 Vs 1400 semantics," tweeted Baba.

While Chopra has yet to put out a response to Kochhar’s remark, his latest apology has elicited mixed reactions on social media.

"When Priyanka apologised which she didn’t have to, you weren’t that nice to her, were you?" tweeted Fehmeenavoice, adding: "As for me I am never going to visit any of your food outlets. Your apology is just to save your restaurants and money. Priyanka’s views on terrorism was reel but your views are real."

"Our criticism was also not to offend you personally, rather, to let you not get carried away by the ongoing politically-motivated hate speech. As I said in my last reply, you can use this opportunity to become a source of positivity," tweeted Omair Anas.

Moiz Syed posted: "I wish people like you who are passionate to unite cultures by culinary delights, get more informed on history, religions and culture. Seeking knowledge is the best option."

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