LONDON: A genial Pakistani man has garnered international media attention for his benevolent act in Southend, Essex.
The event unfolded after 30-year-old Sajid Kahloon saw a homeless English man looking for leftover food at Starbucks, an American coffeehouse chain, shop. He asked him if he needed food, and on getting affirmative reply he bought him cheesecake and other food of his choice for £8.45.
The man sat down on a seat outside the restaurant, but the Starbucks staff and a security guard asked him to leave the place because he reeked and wore ragged clothes.
Sajid Kahloon, who himself runs Run Rooster restaurant along the beach in Southend, argued with the staff that since the food was bought so the homeless man was their customer hence he had the right to sit on the chair and eat his food.
Then, he recorded the event on his camera. The video shows him asking: “The food has been bought, it has been paid for, if food is being paid for and he is eating, what is the problem?
“Is he not human? Let him finish the food then he can leave. Now he is obviously eating the food, you can’t just ask him to leave. Let him eat the food and he can leave, what’s the problem?” said the Pakistani businessman who hails from Gojra city.
The video has so far been viewed by over 70 million people, while the Pakistani man has been interviewed by more than a dozen international media outlets including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Sun and websites in America, Canada, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Spain and several other countries of Europe.
After the calls to apologise grew, the business giant Starbucks was compelled to offer an apology.
A Starbucks spokesperson said: “The interaction on video is not indicative of the environment we strive to create. We are looking into the circumstances surrounding this customer’s experience and will take appropriate action to ensure our stores remain welcoming places for everyone.
“We want every customer to have a positive experience, and we apologise that we did not meet that expectation in this instance.”
In an interview with Geo TV, Kahloon said, “He (the homeless man) didn’t ask for money or anything else. I was shocked to see that a Starbucks employee and security guard told the homeless man he could not eat the sandwich and chocolate cake in the seating area outside the coffee shop. When I stood by his side and defended him, I was told that it was due to ‘a policy of the company’. When I asked what was the policy, I received no answer. I told the staff that they were breaching human rights of the poor man who was their customer.”
“It hurt me to see that his dignity, self-respect and self-esteem was under attack. That’s inhuman and should not be tolerated.”
The businessman told that hospitality was a common cultural trait in Pakistan. “We should make sure that we demonstrate our cultural values wherever we can to show that we love other people. When I was growing up I remember that my mother struggled to put a meal for us on the table. We were very poor but then things changed and we worked hard to change our circumstances. Alhamdulilah, I have money to spend on others and why not.”
Now he wants to rehabilitate the homeless man. “I want him to get a job and live a normal life. I am working on a plan for him.”