Paris, 15 Dhulhijjah 1436/28 September 2015 (MINA) – A French school is under investigation after Muslim and Jewish pupils were told to wear red discs around their necks at lunchtime, sparking parents’ outrage.
“It’s revolting. It reminds you of the darkest times,” a local councillor, Malika Ounès said, On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“Practices like this are not acceptable. No one has the right to impose this on children.”
The dilemma started when Piedalloues primary school in Auxerre, in Burgundy, gave red discs to non-pork eating pupils, basically Muslims.
Eighteen of the school’s 1,500 pupils were made to wear the discs.
The discs were withdrawn after protests by angry parents and community leaders, who said they were reminiscent of the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear under the Nazi occupation.
It was “an isolated, clumsy and unfortunate initiative” that lasted only one day,” Christian Sautier, director of communications in the mayor’s office, said.
He said it had been put into effect by canteen staff without informing local authorities, who ended it immediately.
“When we learned about it, we fell out of our chairs,” Sautier said, adding that the mayor had ordered an investigation.
Muslim students school meals has always been a thorny issue in France.
Last August, a court upheld a local move to stop offering non-pork meals to students in school cafeterias, possibly setting a precedent for municipalities elsewhere in the country.
The court ruled in favor of the Republican mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône who announced in March that students would no longer be guaranteed a non-pork option at lunchtime for the coming school year.
In March, the former centre-Right president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said he too opposed pork-free options in schools.
France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.
French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.
The concept of halal meaning permissible in Arabic has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
In 2007, France’s highest administrative court has endorsed a police decision banning an organization with far-right links from offering only pork soup meal to the homeless as it meant to exclude poor Muslims and Jews who do not eat swine.
The pork soup, distributed by members of the far-right Bloc Identitaire, was regarded as discriminatory and a threat to public order. (T/P006/R04)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)