A Dubai hotel has terminated its contract with the Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar after he tweeted that followers of Islam had “terrorised” Hindus for 2,000 years.
The London-based chef, who is associated with the Rang Mahal restaurant in Dubai as well as five others in the UK and Spain, had been reacting to an episode of the US TV programme Quantico.
A recent episode of the action series, which stars the Indian actor Priyanka Chopra, depicted a terrorist plot hatched by a group of Hindu nationalists. It provoked outrage among some Indians and Chopra apologised for the storyline at the weekend.
Kochhar tweeted on Sunday: “It’s sad to see that you [Chopra] have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorized by Islam over 2000 years. Shame on You.”
He deleted the tweet the following day and apologised. “There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of the moment on Sunday,” he wrote.
“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.”
Kochhar was the second Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, awarded to his Benares restaurant in London in 2007.
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 12, 2018
He apologised again on Wednesday after a flood of outraged on social media including threats to boycott his Dubai restaurant and the JW Marriott Marquis hotel that houses it.
But the hotel announced on Wednesday afternoon it was terminating its relationship with the Indian-born chef, who has appeared in MasterChef in the UK and India.
“Following the recent comments made by chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal,” said a spokeswoman. “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.”
Kochhar said in a statement: “The decision by JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is deeply upsetting, however I fully accept the great pain I have caused and the difficult position the hotel has been put in.
“I have great respect for JW Marriott and in particular their staff in Dubai and wish the hotel well for the future. I hope my friends and well-wishers in Dubai will forgive me and continue to support me in the future.”
Islamic empires have claimed parts of the Indian subcontinent for more than 1,000 years and much of what is modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh was ruled by the Muslim Mughals from the 16th century until they were displaced by the British.
The Mughals integrated and became an Indian dynasty; about 172 million Muslims live in India today, one of the largest Islamic populations in the world.
Hindu nationalists view the Mughal and earlier eras as a period of foreign rule when their traditions and culture were diluted. This nationalist or Hindutva vision was once fringe but has increasingly become mainstream in the past three decades.
Soon after he was elected prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi, a staunch Hindu nationalist, told parliament the country needed to throw off its “slave mentality of 1,200 years” – seen as a reference to the period of Islamic and British rule.
ABC studios, which produces Quantico, apologised for the storyline on Sunday and defended Chopra, who they said “didn’t create the show, nor … write or direct it”.
It added: “The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone.”