Is it justifiable for popular Chinese Muslim beef ‘roti’ outlet to fire a staff for wearing crucifix?

IN AN alarming and highly disconcerting piece of news, it was reported that a worker at a restaurant hugely popular with Muslim diners has been fired for wearing a crucifix.

The issue went viral when a TikTok video showed a worker at Mon Chinese Beef Roti’s Bukit Bintang outlet wearing a necklace with a crucifix while preparing food.

The video (which has since been taken down) eventually elicited many negative responses from Muslim customers stating their uneasiness at a staff wearing both the songkok and the Christian cross.

Instead of standing up for its employee, the management for the highly popular eatery which attracts long queues has apologised for their oversight by dismissing the said employee.

The manager at said outlet – identified only as Sofia – said the restaurant will be more thorough in screening potential staffs’ background to avoid offending local Muslim sensitivities.

Many netizens expressed their disappointment at the episode in that it was allowed to happen at a place popular with Muslim diners, some saying a simple apology alone is not enough.

yolololololol asked netizens to do the necessary to investigate further the company involved in the incident.

Many Muslim netizens also queried whether the outlet indeed has halal certification with some comments bordering on slander. For instance, Jep070 even went as far as to question whether the owner was truly a Muslim.

However, Facebook user Justme sympathised with the fired staff saying: “don’t feel there’s a problem for wearing a crucifix necklace. Coz it’s his religion. Don’t tell me want to force. Enough JAKIM has certified it as halal, cleanliness itself is enough. Pity the staff.”

Echoing this sentiment was Joann98MY who argued that because someone decided to report this as an issue, a man has to lose his job. “What is this person’s problem?” she queried.

Netizen Suaznil Liza pointed out “that there was nothing wrong with the staff wearing crucifix necklace as it was not the food that was in contact with the item. Even this becomes an issue.”

On the overall, this report is disturbing for a number of reasons. Firstly, why did the management feel the need to apologise for this incident? What exactly did the staff do wrong? Was there clear SOPs (standard operating procedures) on not displaying religious jewellery while one is at work?

Secondly, as pointed out by some netizens, fast food chains and mamak restaurants are certified halal yet it is a known fact that they employ non-Muslim workers, too. Why was this young man singled out?

Thirdly, when the manager of the outlet said they will be vigilant in the hiring process, what is she implying – non-Muslims will no longer be employed? Does this incident mean that non-Muslims cannot work in Muslim-owned restaurants for fear of such viral repercussions?

As some netizens have suggested, the laid off worker should take his case to the Employment Tribunal and the Human Resources Ministry, pointing out that it is illegal for an employee to be fired on the basis of his/her religion.

For those who are uncomfortable with a Christian worker preparing their food, is the reverse applicable? Can a Muslim worker be fired because Christian diners are uncomfortable that their food is being prepared by a person of a different faith?

What next? Patients at hospitals demanding that they can only be attended by healthcare professionals of the same religion?

This episode again highlights how viral videos can have unjust consequences – in this case – a young, legally-employed man losing his job. Maybe Malaysians from all walks of life should boycott this outlet for its unconstitutional actions. That’s food for thought. – Nov 20, 2023

Main pic credit: Vocket

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