Atul Kochhar, the Indian-origin head chef of a restaurant in Dubai, has come under fire for his “anti-Islam” tweet, directed at Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra. Chopra had apologised on Twitter after many Indians expressed outrage at an episode of her television drama Quantico that showed a Hindu terrorist plotting an attack in Manhattan, with the intention of blaming it on Pakistan.
On June 10, Kochhar, head chef of Rang Mahal Indian restaurant at the JW Marriot Marquis hotel in Dubai, tweeted that it was “sad to see that you [Chopra] have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam [for] over 2,000 years”. He deleted the tweet later, but a screenshot of it went viral on Twitter.
Many Twitter users criticised Kochhar. Some said they would boycott the restaurant, and others called for Kochhar’s dismissal, the Khaleej Times reported.
JW Marriot distanced itself from Kochhar’s comments. “We are aware of the comments made by chef Atul Kochhar,” it said on Twitter. “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.”
On Monday, Kochhar issued what appeared to be an apology, claiming that his tweet the previous day was “a major error made in the heat of the moment”. “I am not Islamophobic, I deeply regret my comments that have offended many,” he said. However, Kochhar also said he wished to apologise for his “inaccurate” statement that Islam was a 2,000-year-old religion.