Apology after Indian food ban at 'English-themed' St George's Day event

Tania Rahman Image copyright Andover and villages
Image caption Tania Rahman was told the St George's Day festival would have "English themed food only"

A council has U-turned after telling an Indian food stall owner she could not trade at a St George's Day event as it would be "English themed food only".

Chit Chaat Chai's Tania Rahman said she was "hugely shocked" when Salisbury City Council gave its reason for rejecting her application.

She said she was especially "taken aback" as the authority had invited her to apply to trade in the first place.

The council has apologised and said it "never intended to be racist".

'Born in Palestine'

The annual St George's Day Festival takes place in Salisbury city centre on Sunday.

Ms Rahman, who is British Bengali, said: "How far does it go? Can only English people attend? Salisbury is one of the most multicultural cities in the country.

"Chicken Tikka Masala is the nation's favourite dish and St George himself was born in Palestine. I just thought they cannot be serious."

When Ms Rahman posted the message she received from the council on her Facebook page, many of her followers criticised its decision.

Gurpreet Virk described it as "ignorant, mindless and disappointing".

Jordan Harris said: "I wonder if they'll be checking passports and heritage on the day to make sure the crowd is positively English."

And Ren Patel called it an "absolute disgrace".

Image copyright other
Image caption Salisbury City Council said the email to Ms Rahman was "poorly worded"

Salisbury City Council said it was "sorry for any offence", and admitted that the email it sent to Ms Rahman was "poorly worded".

It has since invited her to attend the event.

A spokeswoman said the festival's theme was originally "olde worlde traditional English", but the incident has raised some "very interesting points about modern England" which it will "reflect upon" for future events.

Ms Rahman said despite the authority's U-turn, she is unlikely to attend because "they didn't want me there to begin with".

"It's only because of the uproar on social media that they've asked me back. Does it really have to go to that extent for them to realise the mistake they've made?"

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