SHAFAQNA – Muslim and Jewish students in the small French town of Beaucarie will no longer be able to request pork-free school meals, according to a new rule passed by the town’s far-right mayor.
The town, ruled by the far-right nationalist party the National Front, has banned pork-free meals from school menus in a move widely seen as discriminatory against Muslim and Jewish students. The town, ruled by the far-right nationalist party the National Front, has banned pork-free meals from school menus in a move widely seen as discriminatory against Muslim and Jewish students. The new rule is expected to affect around 150 students, most of whom are Muslim. Under Judaism and Islam, eating pork is considered forbidden.
The town’s National Front Mayor Julien Sanchez said the decision would come into effect when the new school term begins on January 15. He said pork-free meals are against the French state’s brand of secularism.
“Those who refuse to permit their children to eat [pork] can find another solution,” Sanchez said in an announcement to a local newspaper. “Religious imperatives have no place in an educational establishment.” Many, however, criticized the decision as discriminatory. The decision was “a typical example of someone brandishing secularism as an anti-Muslim political weapon, or anti-Jewish for that matter,” Marlene Schiappa, France’s minister for sexual equality, told local television.
Some angry parents were expected to protest the decision on Monday and have said they would not permit their children to eat in school cafeterias.
The National Front did surprisingly well in the French general elections in May, and the party’s leader Marine Le Pen made it to the second round of voting. Her campaign focused heavily on provoking a fear of Islam, migrants, refugees and open borders.
“We do not want to live under the rule or threat of Islamic fundamentalism. They are looking to impose on us gender discrimination in public places, full body veils or not, prayer rooms in the workplace, prayers in the streets, huge mosques … or the submission of women,” Le Pen said of Muslims during the campaign.
She ultimately lost, however, to France’s current President Emmanuel Macron by a wide margin. The party now governs in just a handful of towns and municipalities.
The National Front’s members oppose immigration, diversity and France’s membership in the European Union. They have been a major proponent of French nationalism since the 1980s.