'No cooking for hours with herbs': Woman told by agency she can only rent flat if she 'cooks the western way'

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A woman who recently moved to Amsterdam has been told by an estate agent that she can only rent a flat if she cooks the “western way”.

Executive Home Rentals was accused of racism after it sent Maysaa Munaf, 31, an email saying two properties she wanted to view were not suitable for “tenants who like to cook for hours with lots of herbs”.

Ms Munaf was dismayed by the message, which suggested that only if she cooked dishes more usual in Holland would she be allowed a viewing.

She posted a screenshot of the email to her Facebook and wrote: “Today in an episode of Racism is alive and well.”

The screenshot was also tweeted by her friend, an editor for Al Jazeera, and was shared 1,400 times.

The email to Ms Munaf from EHR read: “Dear Maysaa.

“Both properties are not suitable for tenants who like to cook for hours with lots of herbs (only ‘western way’ of cooking).

“If you cook ‘the western’ way, we can offer you a viewing for this property.

“Awaiting your reply.”

Twitter users responded with outcry.

One person wrote: “Rules out every cuisine including the Dutch as it requires herbs and spices too.

“It’s both ignorant of the Western cuisine and (blatantly) racist.”

Another wrote: “Get her to book the viewing, and then get her to open a can of Surströmming (sour herrings popular in Sweden) at the viewing.”

The rental agency defended itself in a statement in which it described itself as “appalled” by how the row had unfolded.

“EHR Amsterdam has never sought to discriminate,” it said, adding that “nationality plays no part” in how it selects tenants.

It said the choice of the word “western” was unfortunate, but that the properties in question were types in which odours from any food cooking could easily transmit to neighbours.

Sprouts, cauliflower and even steak would pose the same problem, it said.

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