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Iraqi woman barred from Amsterdam flat because only 'western cooking allowed'

Published: Updated:

A Dutch housing agency prevented an Iraqi woman from renting an apartment in Amsterdam because only tenants who “cook in the western way” were allowed to live there, it has been reported.

Maysaa Munaf, who had been in the Netherlands a week, received an email from the Dutch housing agency saying two landlords refuse anyone who likes to cook for hours with herbs.

It was said in the email that if Munaf cooks in the western way, she could view the two apartments later that week.

The housing agency's response, which was shared on Twitter almost 1,400 times, sparked outrage.

People on social media started accusing the company of “racism” after Munaf shared her story on Facebook with the caption “racism is alive and well.”

The company responded that the email was meant to inform Munaf with the restrictions and not “as a racist remark in any way.”

Munaf expressed her feelings towards the company’s respond and said that even if it wasn’t meant as a racist comment, but “it felt that way.”

Michel Rootring, director of Executive Home Rentals, told Dutch media that the apartments were “not properly equipped for long cooking sessions” but admitted that the agent's use of the phrase 'western' was “an extremely unfortunate choice of words.”

“I find it extremely annoying if people interpret those words as racist. We should have said that the apartments are not suited to 'cooking with many herbs', because that could also be the case if one cooks sprouts or cauliflower,” said Rootring.