French Court Orders Schools to Re-instate Non-Lunch Alternatives for Jewish and Muslim Students

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Ruling was not driven by any religious motivation.

On Monday 28th, 2017, a French judge reversed the decision to scrape non-pork lunches for Muslim and Jewish students . The decision, the judge clarified, was not driven by any religious motivation.

According to the Jewish and Islamic teachings, pork is an unclean source of meat, therefore, followers of these teachings do not consume pork. Owing to that, the town hall had been providing non-pork lunches to students coming from these faiths since 1984. This changed in 2015 when the Chalon-sur-Saône passed a decree for all local schools to do away with the meals.

The decision from the town hall came months after far-right Marine Le Pen stated that right-wing states in France would stop offering the meal. According to the town’s Mayor, getting rid of the non-pork distinction would help more students to engage with each other regardless of faith, as well as promote one of France’s fundamentals, secularism. The Muslim Legal Defense League had another take on it, saying it is “illegal, discriminatory and a violation of the freedom of conscience and religion.”

After weighing the arguments of both sides, a French court overturned the Chalon-sur-Saône order and ordered schools to immediately re-instate non-pork diets to their menus. However, the ruling was not for religion against secularism, the court warned. Instead, it supports a more fundamental right: the right of a child to have proper care. The court argues that with the ban in place, numerous Muslim and Jewish children chose to forgo food over breaking the demands of their religion. The no non-pork lunches policy ultimately resulted in the denial of food to Muslim and Jewish minors, which is against international convention on the rights of children.

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