Muslim Chef Sues Police for Asking Him to Cook Pork; 1) Force Fuel: A 999 Breakfast 2) 'Strong Beliefs': Chef Hasanali Khoja

Daily Mail (London), November 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

Muslim Chef Sues Police for Asking Him to Cook Pork; 1) Force Fuel: A 999 Breakfast 2) 'Strong Beliefs': Chef Hasanali Khoja


Byline: Charlotte Gill, Caroline Grant

A MUSLIM chef employed by the Metropolitan Police is suing for religious discrimination after he was asked to cook sausages and bacon for '999 breakfasts'.

Hasanali Khoja accuses Scotland Yard of refusing to guarantee that he would not have to handle pork, which is forbidden in Islam.

He said it was suggested he wear gloves when cooking pork products.

The 60-year-old claims the problem began when he was asked to move from his position as senior catering manager at Hendon Police College in North London, where he had been excused from touching pork.

In his new role at the Empress State Building in West London, which is occupied by Metropolitan Police staff, he was expected to make '999 breakfasts' consisting of sausage, bacon and black pudding.

The meal got its nickname because it is traditional for officers to insist on hearty fry-ups before starting their shift. Mr Khoja, who joined the Met in 2005, said he was placed on special unpaid leave for a year after refusing to work without the guarantee he would not have to handle pork.

He is now back at work at another Met building where he does not have to handle pork but has been downgraded to higher catering manager.

Mr Khoja, from Edgware, North London, said yesterday: 'I felt very unhappy about it. I was very upset and angry because it is not permissible in my religion. I was threatened that management would sack me if I did not follow instructions. But I never enrolled to cook pork. I refused to do it. I never did it and I never would.

'I had a letter from the human resources department saying that I would not be required to cook any pork. But this was not exactly what I wanted as a guarantee.

The Met has shown no sensitivity towards my religion.

Their response has been illthought and discriminatory.' He added: 'My original contract did not include any kind of cooking.

I was hired as a senior catering manager.

'I protested at the move and at having to cook pork. I was placed on paid special leave for a year.

No Muslim in my position should have to face such harassment.' Mr Khoja, who also sits on a Foods Standards Agency advisory committee on Muslim issues, is taking the Met to an employment tribunal which is expected to be heard next May.

An informal agreement was reached in June excusing him from handling pork but Mr Khoja, who began his claim last year, wants it to be formalised. …

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