Dubai: Hours after a Dubai hotel severed its ties with Atul Kochhar in connection with the backlash over a recent inflammatory tweet, the celebrity chef has responded, saying the decision is “deeply upsetting”.
He told XPRESS in an email statement from the UK on Wednesday, “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.”
The hotel earlier said it had taken the decision to end its agreement with Kochhar to operate the Indian restaurant Rang Mahal, following the recent comments made by him on Twitter.
Kochhar faced the ire of social media users after he responded to a tweet by actress Priyanka Chopra, who had apologised for an “offensive” episode of her TV show Quantico that portrayed a Hindu group as “terrorists”.
In his response, Kochhar had said, “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.”
No sooner had the tweet been posted than it sparked outrage, with the chef being accused of racism, bigotry and Islamophobia. Shortly after, Kochhar withdrew the tweet and called it a “major error made in the heat of the moment”. He also clarified that, “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.”
In a second tweet, he “apologised unreservedly” to his Muslim friends, the Islamic community and everyone whom he had offended, saying his comments 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 added.