Local Mayor Bans 'non-Pork' Meals in French Schools

Mayor Julien Sanchez

The mayor of a small city in southern France has put an end to “non-pork” meal choices for its students.
Beaucaire mayor Julien Sanchez called the alternative meals enjoyed by both Jewish and Muslim students “anti-republican” and contrary to France’s secular constitution. Sanchez has served as the city’s mayor since 2014.
Opponents to the decision have accused the mayor of bigotry and called the ban on the alternative meal program “anti-Jewish” and “anti-Muslim.”
“This decision stigmatizes the Moroccan community and can in no way be justified in the name of secularism,” said Laure Cordelet, president of The Citizen Assembly of Beaucaire.
The city of nearly 16,000 residents has a growing North African community which is mostly Muslim. The long-established Catholic and Protestant churches are now joined by a local mosque.
Of the 600 students enrolled in the city’s school district, nearly 150 benefited from the alternative meal program.
The ‘non-pork' meal ban follows a number of cases in which local political leaders ban programs which directly affect Muslim and Jewish citizens.
Republican mayor Gilles Platret cut a similar ‘non-pork’ meal program in the city of Chalon-sur-Saône. That decision was finally blocked by the local administrative court in August 2017. The court decision said the decision to ban the alternative meals went against the “interests of children.” Platret is currently appealing the court’s ruling.
Over the past two summers, there were many municipalities throughout France which banned the wearing of Muslim bathing suits for women called “burkinis.” The bans were enforced by local police who patrolled the beaches issuing fines or arresting beachgoers found wearing the ‘burkini.’
The burkini bans were also justified by local political leaders as a means to uphold secular French values. Critics said the ban was a reaction to the 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice in which 87 people were killed by a terrorist truck driver with North African roots.

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