PARIS – A far-right French mayor in Southern France has banned pork-free meals in state schools, preventing Muslim pupils from being offered the substitution meals.
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,” The Guardian reported Monday.
The decision, mainly affecting about 150 Muslim pupils, was issued Monday by Julien Sanchez, the National Front mayor of Beaucaire, a town south of Avignon.
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 “stigmatizes the Maghreb [North African] community and can in no way be justified in the name of secularism.”
The new ban echoes a similar controversy in 2015 when the Republican mayor of 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 concept of halal — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife to the jugular, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims.