Of the many stresses in life for Muslims in the west, avoiding pork is one of them, especially if you happen to be a Muslim chef forced to handle pork on the job.
Hasanali Khoja, a 60-year-old Muslim chef in Britain, told an employment tribunal in Watford Monday he was "stressed and humiliated" after his employers demanded that he handle pork products despite his religious beliefs.
Khoja was asked to cook '999 breakfasts', a meal popular amongst officers and consisting of sausage, bacon and black pudding. The meal got its nickname because it is traditional for officers to insist on hearty fry-ups at the start of day.
Khoja filed a claim for religious discrimination against the U.K. Metropolitan Police in 2007 claiming he was the victim of racist gestures and religious discrimination. He accused his boss, Paul Bell, at the police kitchen in Heathrow Airport where he was transferred in 2007 of making racist gestures when Khoja objected to cooking pork sausages and bacon.
Even taking precaution like wearing gloves or handling pork with tongs was not enough, Khoja told the tribunal, as it would not protect him from the risk of oil splashes when cooking pork.
Khoja accused Scotland Yard of refusing to guarantee he would not handle pork. In his previous 2004 post as senior catering manager at Hendon Police College in North London, the Muslim chef was excused from handing pork. Upon his transfer his new human resource manager told Khoja no such agreements were not guaranteed.
Employment tribunals are independent judicial bodies that determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. Khoja's tribunal is expected to weigh his religious concerns against those of his employer and to dismiss the dispute or resolve it through compensation.