Ikram Korkmaz, the Turkish Muslim culinary student told by his school in Valby that he would fail to graduate if he refused to taste dishes containing pork or wine, has been informed by the school’s headteacher that he is now exempt from such measures. However, it is unclear at present how this will affect the complaint Korkmaz submitted to the Education Ministry last month.
“The school’s headteacher [Søren Kühlwein Kristiansen] has indicated that in cases like Ikram Korkmaz’s, the student can ask other students to taste the dish on their behalf, if they themselves don’t wish to,” Mette Klingsey Møller, a spokesperson for the Education Ministry, told The Copenhagen Post.
The Copenhagen Hospitality College, which is situated in Valby, had originally told Korkmaz, who enrolled in January, that he needed to taste all his dishes in order to graduate.
“I was very disturbed when my instructor asked me to taste pork and wine,” Korkmaz told Today’s Zaman, an international newspaper that covers Turkish news.
“When I visited the deputy headteacher of the school to complain about the issue, he told me the same thing. As a last resort, I went to the school’s headteacher, but he also told me that all the students in the school have to taste the food they cook.”
The college even went as far as bringing in an imam – an Islamic spiritual leader – to the school to back-up its philosophy. The imam allegedly told the students that, from a religious point of view, there is, in fact, nothing wrong with tasting pork and wine.
Korkmaz, who went to a Muslim high-school in Turkey, was not convinced. “Perhaps some Muslim students believed what that imam said and tasted pork, but I will never do so,” he told Today’s Zaman.
And he even had the backing of the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti, which for once saw eye-to-eye with leftist Enhedslisten on an issue.
“It is a completely crazy case,” Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the spokesperson of Enhedslisten, told public broadcaster back in February. “I expect that the Education Ministry will take action right away. I also do not think that you can tell a lactose-intolerant person that he or she cannot become a chef.”
“It seems odd not to want to taste the food that one is going to serve,” added Dansk Folkeparti deputy leader Peter Skaarup. “But it can never become a requirement, to make someone eat or taste something specific.”