French town bans pork-free school meals in move branded ‘anti-Muslim’

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

 

Decision by far-right local authority in southern France, affecting about 150 mainly Muslim pupils, has been called ‘an attack on the rights of children’

 


In a newspaper article announcing the policy change, the National Front mayor of Beaucaire said pork-free meals were ‘anti-Republican’. Photograph: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

 

By AFP in Beaucaire

 

A far-right local authority in southern France on Monday scrapped pork-free school meals, a move branded “anti-Muslim” or “anti-Jewish” by an equality minister.

Julien Sanchez, the National Front mayor of Beaucaire, a town south of Avignon, abolished the scheme, brought in by his predecessor, on the first day of the new school term.

The step affects about 150 – mainly Muslim – pupils who take the “substitution meals” out of 600 local students in total.

Marlene Schiappa, the minister for sexual equality told BFM TV the decision was “a typical example of someone brandishing secularism as an anti-Muslim political weapon, or anti-Jewish for that matter”.

In a newspaper article announcing the policy change in December, Sanchez said the pork-free meals were “anti-Republican”.

The opposition leader in Beaucaire, Laure Cordelet, called it “an attack on the rights of children” which “stigmatises the Maghreb [north African] community and can in no way be justified in the name of secularism”.

The controversy follows a similar case in 2015, when the Republican mayor Chalon-sur-Saône (south of Dijon) Gilles Platret scrapped the pork substitute menu in the town’s school canteens.

Dijon’s administrative court blocked the decision in August 2017, saying it went against the “interests of children”. The mayor has appealed against that decision to the administrative court of appeal of Lyon.

Parents of students opposed to the decision in Beaucaire will gather in front of the town hall for a picnic protest on Monday 15 January. – Published Date: January 08, 2018

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