“We have to reflect our real image of Islam, of Muslim people”
They do things a little differently in Canada. And they do things very differently at Marché Ferdous, a small restaurant in Montreal that has a policy of offering free food to anyone who is hungry and cannot afford to pay.
“We do not ask any questions, we do not judge people,” Yahya Hashemi co-owner of the Muslim-owned establishment, Yahya Hashemi told Global News. “They want to eat, [we] give them the food. That’s it, that’s all.”
The policy had apparently gone mostly unnoticed until one man shared about it on his Facebook page. Customer Sean Jalbert went undercover to see if the restaurant owners would actually honor the policy, writing on his Facebook page:
“Curious enough I walked in and pretend I had no money and asked for food. She didn't ask anything, but said we welcome you and pick whatever you like, including anything I wanted to drink.”
That post quickly went viral, bringing a wave of positive attention to the owners, their generosity and maybe more importantly how it challenges people to rethink their preconceived notions about the behavior of others based on religious or ethnic background.
And for the record, Jalbert says he paid for his meal, calling the policy, “Absolutely incredible.”
However, the restaurant’s chef offered a much more humble response in an interview suggesting that to not be generous would literally just be a waste.
“It doesn’t matter,” Abdelkader Bejaoui, told CTV News in an interview. “Because at night, if you still have leftover food, you end up throwing it [out]. So why not give it to those in need? It’s not a big deal.”
Still, there’s no denying that the gesture sends a powerful message not just about Muslims but specifically Muslim immigrants who often work hard to assimilate in a new country where being an immigrant is hard enough but comes with the added baggage of people’s fears.
“We have to reflect our real image of Islam, of Muslim people,” co-owner Ala Amiry told CTV. “Immigrants who will work hard here and want to participate in this great country.”