It all began Wednesday afternoon when a citizen took to a private Facebook group to express her frustration with intolerance and discrimination she faced by a bakery’s employees.
Disappointed with the bakery staff’s “unethical and unprofessional behaviour” in refusing to write “Merry Christmas” on a cake she ordered, she stated that “if they’re [employees of the bakery] so against the minorities and their religion then they should not even make money from these occasions.”
She said she wants to report this incident “so no one else will go through this [treatment].”
The woman had been visiting a branch of the bakery in the Khayaban-e-Jami area of Karachi’s upscale DHA neighbourhood.
Separately, a person claiming to be an eyewitness to the incident reported on Facebook that staff at a bakery in Clifton’s Bokhari Commercial area had similarly refused to write Merry Christmas on a customer’s cake.
Staff had stated that they were following “management instructions” in this regard.
Social media users have been criticising the bakery owners for displaying discriminatory conduct towards a minority community.
A Twitter user who condemned the bakery’s unfair treatment observed, “This is the discrimination someone is facing in buying a cake—a luxury item. Imagine what underprivileged non-Muslim minorities must be going through!”
Another user expressed astonishment, stating that “Ironically, all the staff and bakery personnel uses Christian/western developed chillers, creams etc.”
Calling it a shameful act, another social media user called for the boycott of the bakery.
“Boycott […] whoever is indulging in this shameful practice such shamelessly!”
One Twitter user was defensive, stating that while they agree that the act of the employees was wrong, “we cannot throw stones on all of them.”
“It is one of the best bakeries in Karachi; thousands of employees are working with [them]. Such negative campaigns can effect their jobs. Think twice before you tweet,” he added.
However, most users were having none of the apologia. “Are Christians lesser Pakistanis?” asked another Twitter user.
Here are some more reactions where people expressed anger and disappointment over what they saw as a clear example of religious discrimination.
Speaking to Dawn.com on Thursday, an official from one of the bakeries responded to the incident, describing it as an “act of an individual”.
“At the moment, we are taking action against him. It was done in an individual capacity and is not company policy. It may have been done due to lack of education and awareness that ‘Merry Christmas’ means wishing someone a happy Christmas, nothing else,” Dawn reported the bakery as saying.
Not the first time
In 2018, a similar incident occurred at the same Karachi bakery’s Badar Commercial branch, as reported by another Facebook group, Karachi Food Diary.
In that incident, a woman was denied a cake with the message ‘Merry Christmas’ and told that it was against “company policy.”
According to the official, dismissals occurred in the aftermath of that incident, and that may be the case again today, Dawn reported.