Montreal restaurant targeted by 'language police' forced to halt free food program

Mama Khan restaurant in Montreal was the victim of a complaint filed to 'L'Office québécois de la langue française' because English was the predominant language used in their social media.

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Abdul Raziq Khan, owner of the Pakistani restaurant Mama Khan, recently shared his challenges with Quebec’s Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) regarding language regulations.

“I’m the owner of Mama Khan. It’s been open for almost two years now. My mom is the head chef, so we’re a family-run restaurant,” Abdul began.

Mama Khan, a beloved spot for locals and tourists, recently faced scrutiny after someone filed a complaint to the OQLF for its predominantly English social media presence.

“We received a letter from the OQLF telling us our social media is predominantly in English. They’re telling us to make sure it’s either bilingual or in French. Unfortunately, a majority of our posts are in English because I’m more comfortable in English. We corrected our ways and now started posting more in French and bilingual.”

Unaware of the strict language regulations in Quebec, Abdul faced significant issues. Mama Khan's program offering free meals to those in need had to be halted due to concerns over language compliance.

“I used to have four or five customers almost every day, collecting free meals. Homeless people depended on us. Unfortunately, my tickets are in English, not bilingual. I had to remove them because I’m scared that the same person might report me again. We paused the program until we get our French tickets.”

Abdul emphasized the need for a supportive approach to language promotion.

“I have a lot of tourists who ask why everything is in French. We have to reassure them that this is the law in Quebec. I feel there should be a more friendly approach instead of being forced. They should teach people instead of telling people. I did not know about these regulations. I feel like Premier François Legault should have proper advertisement encouraging people to be bilingual.”

Despite the challenges, Abdul remains committed to relaunching the free meal program once the French tickets arrive. His story highlights the challenges small business owners face under Quebec’s language laws.

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