French restauranteur on hunger strike in Kabul

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

KABUL, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - The French owner of one the most popular restaurants in Kabul went on hunger strike Monday to protest a tax bill of half a million dollars that he linked to xenophobia in the Afghan government.

KABUL, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - The French owner of one the most popular restaurants in Kabul went on hunger strike Monday to protest a tax bill of half a million dollars that he linked to xenophobia in the Afghan government.

Marc Victor, who opened L'Atmosphere four years ago, said he would refuse food until the government allowed his restaurant to reopen and cancelled all action against him.

This included scrapping demands for the 500,000 dollars, which he said was equivalent to more than a year's turnover and based on an overstated assessment of the size of his business.

Victor, who says he has paid tax every year amounting to 120,000 dollars since opening the restaurant, has also written to the finance minister to protest.

In a statement announcing his hunger strike, the 46-year-old asked how the government could reconcile "the urgent need" for foreign investment with the "quick-growing of xenophobia in this country," including among civil servants.

L'Atmosphere is among several restaurants that cater mainly to the large community of expatriate aid workers, diplomats, journalists and others who arrived after the extremist Taliban were toppled in 2001.

It serves alcohol and controversially does not admit Afghans, saying this is because Muslims are not allowed to drink in this strictly Islamic country. Other foreign restaurants serve Afghans but will not sell them alcohol.

Afghan authorities raided some of the restaurants this year, including on allegations that they were irregularly selling alcohol, and several were closed down.

Responding to Victor's complaints, the finance ministry said its revenue department was "serious about ensuring that taxpayers meet their tax obligations."

It would be "inappropriate and contrary to the tax law" to discuss the specifics of the L'Atmosphere case, director general of revenue Ahmad Jalali said.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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