A manager at a branch of McDonald's in Pakistan made husband and wife sit apart as he feared that it might damage the "Islamic family atmosphere" of the restaurant.
Noman Ansari, who stopped at a McDonald's branch in Karachi for a diet Coke, said the episode was a symptom of an increasingly intolerant nation, reports The Telegraph.
AdvertisementAnsari said trouble started when he sat next to his wife and slipped an arm behind her shoulder. A staff member told the couple to move, but when they again sat beside each other in an adjacent booth it became clear that the issue was not their location, but the proximity of a man and a woman in public.
Ansari, in an account posted on his blog, said he was told: "Sir, this is a family restaurant. Couples sitting together is against the policy of McDonald's Pakistan, as it goes against the family atmosphere of the restaurant."
The assistant marketing manager, Ali Arsalan, said the company tried to foster a family atmosphere and that it was looking into Noman's grievance.
"If there is some physical action it is possible that a family might have raised a complaint and asked the couple to have sit on a separate seat because we have sisters or mothers there," he said.
Multinational fast food companies frequently struggle with local religious and cultural sensibilities.
Last month, Pizza Hut Pakistan was forced to withdraw its "all you can eat" offer during Ramazan in order to end what it called an "invitation to gluttony" as customers gorged themselves at the end of a day of fasting.
And in India, McDonald's is planning to open its first vegetarian branches close to two holy sites, leading to threatened protests by Hindus and Sikhs.
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