By: Daily Mail Reporter
Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering non-pork alternatives to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.
France’s republic 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.
‘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.’
Pork is forbidden under Jewish and Muslim dietary laws.
The mayor of Arveyres, Benoit Gheysens told AFP 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 FN mayor Fabien Engelmann has also proposed a ‘Pork Fest’ to liven up the town centre, a plan he insists is not designed to offend Muslims but which will do little to alleviate high local unemployment.
The anti-immigrant National Front has consistently bemoaned the rising influence of Islam in French pubic life.
France has seen periodic controversies over schools that substitute beef or chicken for pork from menus to cater to Muslim children.
Some of the FN’s new mayors have complained there are too many halal shops in their towns.
The party won control of 11 town halls and a large district in the port city of Marseille in municipal elections on Sunday, more than double its record from the 1990s.
Le Pen hailed the victory as showing the party had finally established itself as France’s third political force behind ruling Socialists and mainstream conservatives, and predicts a strong showing in May’s European Parliament elections.