The owners of an upscale eatery in Pakistan have apologised for a video which shows them mocking the manager of their restaurant for his lack of proficiency in English. In the one-minute-and-18-second clip, the women introduce themselves as Uzma and Dia – owners of Cannoli by Cafe Soul in Islamabad. They go on to ask their cafe manager of nine years to introduce himself in English and then laugh as he struggles to speak in a language he is clearly not comfortable with.
The women faced severe criticism on social media after the video went viral yesterday and made #BoycottCannoli one of the top trends in Pakistan.
In the video, Uzma and Dia reveal that their manager, Awais, has worked with them for nine years. “How many classes have you taken for English?” Dia asks, to which Awais responds that he has studied three English courses over the course of one and a half years.
“So could you please speak to everyone in English?” Uzma requests. The video then shows the two women laughing as Awais speaks in English at their request.
“This is the ‘beautiful’ English he speaks,” says one of them in a mocking tone, while the other adds, “This is what we paid for.”
“This is just so sad. Class privelege, colonial hangover and depravity of Pakistani elite — all rolled into one clip,” wrote one Twitter user while sharing the video. “The hero here is this manager and my salam to him for his hard work, dedication and putting up with this!”
This is just so sad. Class privelege, colonial hangover and depravity of Pakistani elite — all rolled into one clip. The hero here is this manager and my salam to him for his hard work, dedication and putting up with this! pic.twitter.com/8IVnE6nSYv
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) January 21, 2021
The footage enraged hundreds of Twitter users who slammed the cafe owners as “elitist”, “tone deaf” and “reeking of privilege”. It has been viewed over 8.7 lakh times on the microblogging platform.
“Just got sent this. Sick to my stomach. No words for our English fluent elites. Never seen more tone deaf women with this confidence,” wrote one Twitter user.
“What a disgusting display of the lack of understanding of privilege. It isn’t even about language. It’s about the decency to treat another person with respect,” another remarked.
As calls to boycott their eatery grew, #BoycottCannoli became one of the top trends.
— Abdullah Alam (@whoabdulllah) January 21, 2021
To the owners of Cannoli restaurant,
Is this English good enough for you?
“LEARN TO TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH RESPECT.”#BoycottCannoli
— Mariam’s Madness (@MaddyForLabour) January 21, 2021
— Ali Gul Pir (@Aligulpir) January 20, 2021
As backlash grew, the official page of Cannoli offered an explanation of sorts.
“We are saddened and appalled by the reaction of the people, how they have misconstrued our banter with a team member,” they said. “This video depicts the gup shup between us as a team, and is never meant or taken in a hurtful or negative way. If anyone was hurt or offended we apologise, however that was never our intention.”
They went on to add that they “are not required to prove or defend” themselves as kind employers. “Our team has been with us for a decade, that should speak for itself”.
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