…because it offends Buddhists says council
A Buddhist businessman who wants to call his Chinese restaurant Fat Buddha has angered council chiefs – who claim the name will upset Buddhists.
Eddie Fung’s £1.3million restaurant will open in Durham next month, creating 60 jobs.
But the restaurateur was astonished when Tracey Ingle, the city council’s head of cultural services, demanded he change the name because it was ‘provocative’.
Mr Fung, 39, said: “I cannot believe that this woman should go to so much time and trouble to take issue over an inoffensive name like Fat Buddha.
“No Buddhist is going to be offended by this. The fat Buddha is a symbol of health and happiness. It is political correctness gone mad.”
And a spokesman for the Buddhist Society said: “Buddhists regard the fat Buddha as lucky. To suggest this is offensive is to misunderstand the faith.
“Buddhists don’t take offence at anything because to do so doesn’t follow Buddhist teachings.”
Mr Fung said that his company, Utopian Leisure, had received no complaints about the use of the name Fat Buddha at his first restaurant, which opened in Belfast earlier this year.
In a letter to Mr Fung, Miss Ingle wrote: “To use the name of a major religion’s deity in your restaurant brand runs contrary to this city’s reputation as a place of equality and respect for others’ views and religious beliefs.
“The generic descriptive adjective of “fat” is not in itself a derogatory term when applied generally. [T]he name implies an Eastern offer as it is associated with a religion that grew from Asian countries. It does not, however, offer vegetarian cuisine solely nor does it refer to Buddhist belief systems. The name is provocative.”
Durham City Council defended her position, saying: “The department felt the name was inappropriate in a city founded on faith. We don’t want to offend anyone because of the different faiths that come to the city. The council operates a strict non-discriminatory equal-opportunities and diversity policy across the board.”
Miss Ingle added: “I stand by the letter, which asked the restaurant owners to rename the place. That is where we are now.
“We have taken every reasonable step and I have contacted the company director and set out my concerns.
“The restaurant is in a very prominent position and it does have an impact on the reputation of the city. I have expressed a view as head of cultural services in dealing with the culture of the city.”
Buddhism was founded 2,500 years ago in India by Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as the Buddha.
There are 350million Buddhists worldwide, including more than 150,000 in Britain.