As part of a proposed programme for his party’s candidates in next year’s municipal elections, mayor of Puy-en-Velay and UMP vice-president Laurent Wauquiez has put forward a “pacte de laïcité“, which he claims would further the fight against “communalism”. It would include a commitment to ban the provision of different meals in school canteens.
This goes beyond a refusal to provide halal or kosher meals for Muslim or Jewish students. As the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie points out, most parents don’t ask for the substitution of specific school meals adapted to their religious requirements, but simply ask that non-halal or non-kosher meat should not be served to their children.
At the beginning of each school year, parents fill in a form stating whether they want their children to be served meat. The CCIF describes this as a common-sense measure that respects the rights of everyone. Wauquiez wants to put an end to this practice. If he has his way, Muslim and Jewish children would be forced to eat pork. They would therefore effectively be excluded from school dinners.
The CCIF notes that laïcité simply means that the state is neutral with regard to religion and allows everyone to practise their faith freely as long as this does not restrict the freedom of others. The CCIF asks how the provision of vegetarian meals in school canteens restricts anyone’s freedom.
They accuse of Wauquiez of putting forward a proposal which is as absurd as it is authoritarian and which would create tensions where none now exist. The CCIF suggests that political leaders would be better occupied encouraging social cohesion rather than stirring up divisions for their own cynical electoral purposes.