Black Lives Matter Racism Islamophobia UK

Racism in food industry ‘exists more than ever’, say celeb cooks

Black Lives Matter Racism Islamophobia UK

Credit: Black Lives Matter

Muslim celebrity cooks have spoken out on Twitter against racism existing in the food and beverage industry and which they have personally experienced over the years.

The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain MBE said that she had experienced more racism from within the food/TV industry over the past five years than she had her entire life.

While Masterchef 2017 champion Saliha Mahmood Ahmed agreed with Nadiya, she added that “racism exists more than ever”.

Nadiya tweeted: “Racism is real, just because you don’t experience it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, it does! I have experienced more racism in 5 yrs working in the food/TV industry than in my whole life and its time to call it out!”

Saliha added: “Personally, I experienced racism in the form of hateful tweets after winning MasterChef. [C]omments like ‘she only cooks curry’ and remarks about my appearance and my family were hurtful. Totally agree with @BegumNadiya racism exists more than ever.”

Fellow Masterchef contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin – originally from Malaysia but now living in Britsol – confirmed with FtLion: “I do get racism remarks and my girls too being half English [sic].”

She recounts an incident in 2018 when she was told by a landlord, whom she had arranged to meet via email and who until then had been “so nice until we meet face to face…: ‘I dont rent my venue to Muslims’.”

But Zaleha said she has been determined to stand up to racism: “It saddens me that a single glance at my skin colour and religious beliefs can dictate people’s attitude towards me. I’ve learnt to brush off the side looks, the double take and snide remarks which in the past use21 to bother me. But now, I stand up to racism.”

Azhar also tweeted in support of Nadiya’s claims stating that since establishing his wholesale business Azanti, which distributes non-alcoholic beverage across the UK, he too has “been bombarded with playing in a ‘white man’s sector'”.

These allegations follow the recent killing of 46-year-old black man George Floyd whose death at the hands of US police in Minneapolis has led to global calls, under the trending hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, for an end to racism.

Halal food influencer Anisa told FtLion that the only time she had been subjected to online racism was when her Youtube channel Anisagrams trended in America in 2017.

“I received lots of racist comments from American people calling me a terrorist, a bomb-maker, or they didn’t want to see terrorist food on the YouTube homepage and it offended them,” she said.

Her videos on ‘How to make crispy Pakora recipe’ and ‘Spicy Chicken Tenders’ were targeted with a number of Islamophobic comments which included one person requesting “how to make a bomb” and another asking: “Can you make pork chops?”

Noman Khawaja recalls how he had “personally received a death threat” email threatening to cut his throat for adhering to the Islamic ritual called Dhabihah which requires the cutting of an animal’s throat and main artery during slaughter.

Noman said he received the email along with a slurry of Islamophobic Facebook posts from members of the far-right English Defence League soon after announcing that his food brand Haloodies would be participating at the 2013’s Halal food festival in London’s Excel Centre.

The co-founder of Haloodies added that a police patrol was required for the two day event after he reported the threats to the organisers of the event.

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