France’s far-right National Front party will prevent schools from offering Muslim and Jewish pupils pork-free lunches in the towns where it won in recent local elections, its leader Marine Le Pen announced on Friday.
She said that arrangements catering to Muslim and Jewish, pupils who cannot eat pork according to religious restrictions, contradict the country’s secular values.
“We will not accept any religious demands in school menus,” Le Pen told RTL radio. “There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that's the law.”
France has seen periodic controversies over schools that substitute pork on menus to cater to Muslim and Jewish children, while some of the FN's new mayors complain there are too many halal shops in their towns.
But Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities. In 2011, a controversial law was introduced banning full-face veils in public.
Earlier this month, the party harnessed anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment in France to win control of 11 towns and more than 1,400 municipal seats nationwide in local elections - more than double its record from the 1990s.
Le Pen hailed the victory as showing the party had finally established itself as France's third political force behind ruling Socialists and mainstream conservatives, and predicts a strong showing in May's European Parliament elections.
Additional reporting by Reuters