Bride-to-be claims venue violating religious rights by denying all-halal menu
A Dartmouth, N.S. woman says her religious rights are being violated because her request to have a fully halal menu at her wedding venue is being denied.
Susan Ashley and her fiance Mohammed are planning on a June, 2020, wedding. For their special day, they need a space for 200 guests that includes two adjoining rooms, which is why they chose the Delta Hotel in Dartmouth.
But they say their request that the hotel’s chefs prepare a full halal meal in accordance with their faith is being denied.
Ashley says the hotel told them they can offer only some halal foods. She asked if she could bring in her own caterer, but the hotel told her it could not allow outside caterers into the kitchen because it would then have to suspend food preparation for the rest of the hotel’s guests.
Ashley says she finds that difficult to accept since she was planning a buffet-style meal, which would require minimal staffing and setup.
In a statement to CTV Atlantic, the hotel said it always tries to work with customers, but this particular request can’t be accommodated.
"Our catering menu does include many halal selections. However, we cannot provide assurances of no cross-contamination for clients who seek a true orthodox meal," said an official for Armour Group Ltd., which represents the Delta Hotel.
Ashley says she is furious her request is being denied.
“I honestly feel that it infringes on my basic human rights. And my universal human right is my freedom to practise religion,” she told CTV Atlantic. “I can't say enough how upset I am.”
Halal meats need to be prepared in a certain way, with the animals hand-slaughtered with a cut to the throat, accompanied by an Islamic prayer.
“It's supposed to be a very quick, painless death,” explains local halal retailer, Jibran Khan. “The knife is supposed to be very, very sharp. One swift go.”
Khan says it seems to him that halal food is starting to become more accessible in the Halifax area but that wasn’t always the case.
“I grew up here; 26 years in Canada not being able to go to restaurants, having to watch what I eat at friends’ places. So it just becomes a little restrictive in a lot of ways,” said Khan.
Ashley is now looking at other venues in downtown Halifax, but says the hotels there are much more expensive.
“I don't want to spend $50,000 on a wedding. I believe the Delta declined allowing me to have a caterer because they would essentially lose profit,” she said.
Delta responded that Ashley seemed set on using an outside caterer
"The client seemed committed to having an outside caterer from the outset of her request, which appeared to be driven solely by economics."
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff