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France's Right Wing Wants to Deny Pork-Free School Meals to Muslims and Jews

Although pork-free meals have been offered for 31 years in the Burgundy town of Chalon-sur-Saone, Mayor Gilles Platret wrote in a letter to parents that “school canteens … should revert to neutral spaces.”

by Munchies Staff
Aug 12 2015, 2:02pm

Photo via Flickr user alexazul

In the land of liberté, égalité, and fraternité, pork-free meals are apparently not guaranteed.

Or at least that's the case in the riverside town of Chalon-sur-Saone, near Dijon, where Mayor Gilles Platret announced in March that Jewish and Muslim pupils did not deserve the right to school meals made without pork.

Although pork-free meals have been offered for 31 years in the Burgundy town, Platret wrote in a letter to parents that "school canteens … should revert to neutral spaces."

READ: Some Swedish Lunatic Thinks Eating Halal Meat Magically Makes You Muslim

Shortly after the Platret issued his "pork or nothing" policy, the Muslim Judicial Defence League filed a legal complaint, claiming that "a child would be extremely traumatised if a pork cutlet was served to him and he was obliged to eat it after he has been repeatedly told from a young age that it's forbidden food."

This week, a French court will rule on the legality of the ban, according to the AFP.

Platret is not the only French politician to have made a move priding pork over religious observance recently.

In December, the mayor of the little town of Sargé-lès-Le Mans announced that students who did not eat pork would not receive a substitute meal. According to TheLocal, the move affected 15 Muslim pupils in the school, but the school was not believed to have any Jewish students.

"The mayor is not required to provide meals that respond to religious requirements," Mayor Marcel Mortreau said at the time. "This is the principle of secularism."

That echoes the words of Platret's attorney, who recently said that France's authorities were not required to "provide everyone what they need to exercise their religion."

That unflagging commitment to "secularism" is increasingly common in France, one of only two countries in the world to have an enacted a nationwide ban on the wearing of burqas in public. France is also home to the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe.

Tensions over Islam have remained high in the country in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January, and the ISIS-related beheading of a man in June. Earlier this summer, French recipe site Marmiton decided to post a series of Ramadan recipes, only to be met with racist trolls.

As the AFP notes, moves like Platret's are viewed by many "as pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment at a time of heightened tensions over jihadist attacks."

But the right's xenophobic crusade predates the violence at Charlie Hebdo. In April of last year, far-right Front National party leader Marine Le Pen led her own charge against halal and kosher meals, telling a French radio station, "We will accept no religious requirements in the school lunch menus … There is no reason for religion to enter into the public sphere."