France’s National Front leader says Muslim pupils should “eat pork or go hungry”

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right French National Front

France’s far-right National Front leader said her party would prevent schools from providing non-pork alternatives to Muslim pupils.

Marine Le Pen said on Friday that pupils would have to “eat pork or starve” in the 11 towns the National Front won in local elections, stating that such arrangements were a contradiction to France’s secular values.

France has a strict secular tradition enforceable by law, but religious demands have increased in recent years, especially from the country largest religious minority of five-million Muslims, the biggest in Europe.

Le Pen told French radio station RTL: “We will not accept any religious demands in school menus. There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that’s the law.”

The mayor of Arveyres, Benoit Gheysens told AFP the decision was being taken because of the cost of providing alternative school meals, many of which went to waste.

He said: “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.”

In the eastern town of Hayanges, National Front (FN) mayor Fabien Engelmann has also planned to host a “Pork Fest” to “liven up the town centre”, which he insists is not designed to offend Muslims but may improve the high local unemployment rate.

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The anti-immigration and some say Islamophobic FN has constantly campaigned against what it believes to be the rising influence of Islam in French pubic life.

France has witnessed some controversies over schools that substitute chicken or beef for pork from menus to accommodate for Muslim children.

Some of the FN’ newly elected 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 Marseille in municipal elections on Sunday, doubling its record from the 1990s.

Le Pen claimed the victory demonstrated the FN had finally established itself as France’s third political party behind ruling Socialists and mainstream conservatives.

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