France 2012: Religions enter debate on halal meat

Protests after controversial statements on slaughter rites

06 March, 16:45

(ANSAmed) - PARIS, MARCH 6 - Religion has entered the French presidential campaign, now that the Jewish and Muslim communities are protesting against the debate on halal meat. The debate was opened by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and resumed in the past days by Nicolas Sarkozy. Representatives of the Jewish and Muslim community in France have taken a clear stance against the statement that was made yesterday by Prime Minister Francois Fillon, a close ally of Sarkozy. Fillon has said that the slaughter methods used by Jews and Muslims (kosher and halal), are ''age-old traditions that are now outdated." Catholic bishop Michel Dubost has also spoken out against this statement, saying that in a secular country like France, the government ''should not interfere with what religions are doing." The absence of labels on halal meat, making it impossible for non-Muslim consumers to know that they are buying, previously a topic of Marine Le Pen, has now been taken over by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his faithful collaborators. Part of the meat produced in France following Jewish and Muslim rites - but not in line with the rules of these two religions - is distributed in supermarkets without any information about its origins.

Sarkozy is shifting to the right to recover ground he has lost to his socialist opponent Francois Hollande. On February 21 Sarkozy said that the row on halal meat ''makes no sense." But on Sunday he said that he is in favour of ''labelling meat according to slaughter methods." Today French rabbi Gilles Bernheim said that he is ''shocked'' by this debate, which ''has no reason of existence." ''The problems France has'' he added, ''are so important, this is a period of crisis, I don't understand how kosher and halal meat can be a more important problem for France." Yesterday the president of the council that represents Jewish institutions in France, Richard Prasquier, said that he was ''shocked'' by the ''surprising'' statements made by Fillon. ''The government,'' he continued, ''must not interfere with religious traditions." And also the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) does ''not understand and does not accept the use of the Islam and Muslims as scapegoats in this campaign." ''The CFCM'' added Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the organisation that represents Muslims in France (at least 4 million based on official estimates) ''refuses to serve as sounding board for the statements of some and the controversies of others." (ANSAmed).

© Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

Business opportunities

The information system of business
opportunities abroad

News from Mediterranean