Although Muslims in Pakistan are not permitted pork or alcohol by law, they will take great offence to being denied entry by a restaurant that serves both prohibited items.
A French restaurant caused outrage among Pakistani social media activists when it was discovered that the eatery barred the entry of locals. It was closed down by authorities shortly after this tweet, which is the spark that lit the fire.
Extremely upset. Heard a rumour of a new restaurant in F-7 that only accepts reservations if you have a foreign passport. NoToApartheid.— cyril almeida (@cyalm) December 12, 2013
Locals were incensed over the ‘select entry’ criteria of the establishment.
If you call the La Maison restaurant in Islamabad for a booking they ask for nationality and passport number - and if you are Pak it's a no— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) December 18, 2013
Someone should ask the owner of La Maison in Islamabad what would happen if he had an eating place in Paris and refused to serve the French— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) January 7, 2014
La Maison: a restaurant in Islamabad that bans Pakistanis! La Bigots or La Ch**ts would've been more apt names, no? http://t.co/HV7Pk4ozdW— sonajain (@sonajain) January 5, 2014
Amazingly, this is the most vocal and sentimental that social media activists have been in quite some time, leaving some scratching their heads over the reason.
Before taking up La Maison, how about ensure that Ahmadis, Hindus & Christians can attend school w/out being insulted and bullied. #Pakistan— Josh Shahryar (@JShahryar) January 7, 2014
@omar_quraishi Someone should ask those Pakistanis who are raising hell about La Maison if cat gets their tongues when Ahmadis are barred— Mohsin Sayeed (@MohsinSayeed) January 7, 2014
The establishment in question is called “La Maison”, which popped up in October 2013.
It served French cuisine and had a 20 seating arrangement, making it extremely exclusive. However, it turned out to be a bit too exclusive when it refused to let any of the locals in. Yes, the exclusive restaurant had a ‘No-Pakistani’ policy.
Philippe Lafforgue, the owner, defends his restaurant’s policy, “It’s not a discrimination thing. It’s a culturally sensitive thing. How can I serve pork and booze to Pakistanis without getting into trouble? So I have a rule: no locals getting in.”
Perhaps Laffrouge could have been more tactful with his approach. Denying access to Pakistanis in their own country after seeing their passports was likely to rub people the wrong way. And it did.
On the other hand, the owner would be hanging an ‘open for bombing’ sign on the door if he publically announced that his restaurant served non-halal meat, pork and alcohol.
Needless to say, the elite of the country, who like to wet their beaks in some alcohol every now and then, were quite upset over their right to access prohibited items. How ironic.
Although Laffrouge had the best of intentions and was being considerate of cultural sensitivities, people were overjoyed that his restaurant was sealed.
Jeet Hamari Hui!! ---> French restaurant La Maison in Islamabad which refused to allow Pakistanis entry has been shut down by the police— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) January 7, 2014
A few years ago, there was another restaurant serving French cuisine called 'The Cordon Rouge' which was forced to remove its ‘foreigners only’ sign.
Perhaps the locals are suffering from a colonial hangover when signs like ‘dogs and Indians are not allowed’ were put outside restaurants and clubs established by the British rulers.
The lesson to be learnt here is that one cannot serve alcohol in Pakistan, but in case an establishment chooses to do, it dare not stop Pakistanis from indulging.