• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French court orders jail to serve halal meals

Dan MacGuill · 28 Nov 2013, 10:13

Published: 28 Nov 2013 10:13 GMT+01:00

The administrative tribunal in the southern city of Grenoble has ordered the nearby prison at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier to provide its Muslim inmates with halal meals, according to French media reports this week.

The ruling is a legal landmark in France, being the first time a judicial institution has held that the country’s correctional system is obliged to pay for food that complies with religious rites.

“It’s a very important decision,” said Alexandre Ciaudo, a lawyer representing a Muslim inmate, named only as Adrien K., who had in March requested that halal meals be provided by the prison.

According to French daily Le Parisien, the institution’s director had rejected the request outright. In response, Adrien K. filed suit with authorities in the Isère department, near the French Alps.

In a decision rendered on November 7th, the court in Grenoble upheld the inmate’s request, and condemned the prison director for breaching Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the free expression of religious beliefs.

The court went further, however, stating that France’s strict secular tradition (known as “laïcité”), as well as guaranteeing the separation of church and state, also “requires that the state guarantee free religious exercise.”

The administrative tribunal also pointed out that the logistics of providing halal meals were not a barrier to the prison.

“There would be no prohibitive additional cost to the establishment, and no particular technical difficulty,” said the ruling.

The prison at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier now has a maximum of three months to make arrangements for providing “regular” halal meals to Muslim inmates.

SEE ALSO: 'The children must eat their meat' - School principal causes uproar

'Outdated ancestral traditions'

While this month’s ruling marks the first time a prison has been legally obliged to provide religiously-compliant meals, the issue of halal meat has long been a controversial one in France.

In the run-up to last year’s presidential election, far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen launched a fierce row by claiming all meat from abatoirs in the Paris region was prepared using Islamic halal traditions, and that non-Muslim consumers in the capital were being misled.

Story continues below…

Then-president Nicolas Sarkozy waded into the row, suggesting that meat should be labelled to tell consumers how the animal was slaughtered, a proposal rejected by Jewish and Muslim groups, who feared being stigmatized by the labelling.

Then-French Prime Minister François Fillon subsequently caused outrage by suggesting French Jews and Muslims should abandon their "outdated ancestral traditions" regarding food and diet.

Back in April, the principal of a school near Paris was forced to backtrack after announcing that all pupils would be obliged to eat meat, and none would be allowed an exemption for religious reasons.

Jews and Muslims are forbidden from eating pork under their religious dietary laws, but that didn't prevent the principal from sending out a strongly-worded letter to parents, saying: “I remind you that your child is being educated in a school in the Republic, and that secularism – one of the foundations of the Republic – must be respected in its entirety.”

Just a month earlier, The Local reported how Jewish and Muslim parents in the south-western town of Arveyres were outraged when their children's school announced that the canteen would no longer be serving a substitute for pork.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Photo: ByeBye Crottoir

No need to watch your step anymore, says this French engineer behind a new app called "Bye Bye Pavement Dog Poo"

Calls in France for English to be ditched as EU language
Photo: AFP

Some in France suggest it's time to end the dominance of English as the EU's working language, now that the UK has voted to leave the union.

Seven tips for selling your house in France
Photo: AFP

After the Brexit referendum there is already talk of British expats in France considering selling up. Here are seven tips put together by an expert.

British businesses in France told to keep calm and carry on
Brits celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday at the British embassy in Paris. Photo: UK in France/Flickr

Brits running their own businesses have been told that despite the Brexit vote, it should be "business as usual".

Paris thieves pilfer luxury watches worth €3 million
Photo: AFP

Another multi-million robbery in the chic heart of Paris.

Price of Paris monthly transport pass to rise
Photo: AFP

Commuting in Paris is set to get pricier.

Opinion - Brexit
Why a Brexit would be a 'windfall' for France
Photo: AFP

A Brexit wouldn't mean the "apocalypse" the doomsdayers are predicting, it would actually be a "tremendous opportunity" for France.

Post Brexit: Paris and London vow to cooperate not compete
Sadiq Khan and Anne Hidalgo vow to work together. Photo: AFP

The mayors of Paris and London have vowed to work together in order to shape the 21st century.

Voters give green light to new airport in western France
Photo: AFP

Will this finally mark the end of years of wrangling and protests?

'We can handle Brexit' insist Hollande and Merkel
Photo: AFP

France and Germany say they are on the same page when it comes to handling the fallout of last week's shock Brexit vote.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,730
jobs available