London, July 23, 2007 (IANS) — Fung’s new restaurant is worth 1.3 million pounds, but its opening has been marred by objections to its name from the city council. Tracey Ingle, the council’s head of cultural services, has demanded that the name be changed.
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.”
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.”
Fung already has a restaurant in Belfast with the name ‘Fat Buddha’. In the letter to Fung, 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…the 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.”
In a statement, the Durham City Council defended the position: “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.”
Ingle told the Daily Mail: “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.”
The number of Buddhists in Britain is reported to be 150,000.
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