No pork substitutes on new menus in National Front schools
'No reason for religion to enter the public sphere,' says French far-right party, which won control of 11 municipalities in recent elections.
The 11 towns in which France's far-right National Front won majorities in recent local elections will no longer offer non-pork school meals for Jewish and Muslim pupils, party leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday.
France has a strict secular tradition, enforceable by law, but faith-related demands have risen in recent years, especially from the country's five-million-strong Muslim minority, the largest in Europe, the Daily Mail reported.
"We will not accept any religious demands in school menus," Le Pen told RTL radio. "There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that's the law."
The new mayor of Arveyres, Benoit Gheysens said the move was being taken because of the cost of providing alternative meals, many of which went to waste. "Often children who did not take the substitute dinner complained as well and left the pork. It distressed the staff to see how much food was wasted," Gheysens said.
In the eastern town of Hayanges, National Front mayor Fabien Engelmann has proposed a "Pork Fest" to liven up the town center, a plan he insists is not designed to offend Muslims but which will do little to alleviate high local unemployment.
France has seen periodic controversies over schools that substitute beef or chicken for pork to cater to Muslim children.
The party won control of 11 town halls and a large district in the port city of Marseille in municipal elections last week, more than double its record from the 1990s.
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