Danish minister intervenes in culinary school scandal

Christine Antorini

March 12, 2012, Monday/ 18:40:00

Danish Education Minister Christine Antorini has intervened in a scandal concerning allegations that a culinary school in Denmark was forcing its Muslim students to taste pork and wine, both banned in Islam, if they want to graduate.

The Copenhagen Hospitality College was in the news earlier this month when it required a young Muslim to taste pork if he wanted to graduate. İkram Korkmaz, who has been at the school studying to be a nutrition assistant, refused to taste pork and wine. Shortly after his story was published in the Turkish dailies Zaman and Today’s Zaman, Education Minister Antorini sent him a letter, saying the school management could not force him to taste anything that goes against the dietary restrictions stipulated by his religion.

Antorini also said that officials from the ministry had spoken with the principal of the Copenhagen Hospitality College. In her letter, she congratulated Korkmaz on pursuing a culinary career, and clearly stated that students who refused to taste certain foods due to dietary restrictions arising from faith or illness, such as an allergy, cannot be forced to do so.

Korkmaz said he was very happy to have received a letter from the minister, saying now he would be able to attend the school without the fear of being dismissed. “The school management’s attitude towards me seriously softened after the minister’s letter. They don’t pressure me anymore to taste pork or wine.” After the ministry’s intervention, the Copenhagen Hospitality College removed a statement on its website indicating that students are required to taste pork after preparing it.

In a statement on the issue, Danish Muslims Joint Council (MFR) press secretary Mustafa Gezen said the MFR had been closely monitoring the developments at the culinary school, adding they were very pleased that the minister sent a letter to the student. “Such incidents taking place in a society as democratic as the Danish society does not benefit our society. To the contrary, such events can adversely affect our culture of coexistence,” said Gezen.

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