• France edition
 
French court orders jail to serve halal meals
A French court has made legal history by ordering a prison to offer halal meals to its Muslim inmates. File photo: John Moore/AFP

French court orders jail to serve halal meals

Published: 28 Nov 2013 10:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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'Outdated ancestral traditions'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.

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.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
View from 'La Rue'
Who knew? The French really like Halloween
Turns out the French are actually fans of Halloween. Photo: AFP

Who knew? The French really like Halloween

With Halloween just a day away The Local hit the streets of Paris to find out what the French think of this quintessentially North American holiday. While not everyone agrees, lots of people told is they love it. READ  

French inmate shows off drug stash on Facebook
The inmate posted the videos and photos onto Facebook. Prison photo and Facebook photo: Shutterstock

French inmate shows off drug stash on Facebook

In a series of videos and photos more reminiscent of a holiday camp than a prison, an inmate in southern France has given a taste of his hedonistic life behind bars – including cannabis and mobile phones. READ  

Dozens arrested after clash over dead protester
Police made dozens of arrests at a protest Wednesday in Paris. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

Dozens arrested after clash over dead protester

A demonstration against the death of a protester killed in a clash with police itself turned violent in Paris on Wednesday, with some hurling bottles and rocks at riot police. At least 33 people were in police custody after the confrontations. READ  

Drones over French nuke sites prompt probe
The first drone was spotted on October 5th above a plant in deconstruction in eastern Creys-Malville, according to EDF. File photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Drones over French nuke sites prompt probe

France's state-run power firm EDF on Wednesday said unidentified drones had flown over seven nuclear plants this month, leading it to file a complaint with the police. READ  

The Local List
Ten things to never say to a French person
Here's what you should never say in France. Photo: Shutterstock

Ten things to never say to a French person

Ah, France. The land of lazy workers, surrender and adulterers. Come again? Say that stuff to a French person’s face and chances are you've made them really angry. Here we’ve listed some of the worst things you can say to a French man or woman. READ  

French staff sergeant killed in Mali clash
French troops intervened in Mali in January 2013 to chase out hardline Islamists. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

French staff sergeant killed in Mali clash

A French staff sergeant was killed in northern Mali early on Wednesday in an operation by French forces against "an armed terrorist group", President Francois Hollande's office said. READ  

Russia not to get warship just yet: French minister
Paris faces mounting pressure from Western partners to scrap the deal over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis. Photo: AFP

Russia not to get warship just yet: French minister

The conditions are not yet in place for France to deliver a controversial warship to Russia, the French finance minister said on Thursday, after Moscow said the handover would take place next month. READ  

These French wines will be great this year
These are the French wines expected to be great this year. Cheers photo: Shutterstock

These French wines will be great this year

A gorgeous Indian Summer helped France reclaim its title as world's top wine producer this year, but the weather also is expected to result in some really good vino. These are wines that should be great this year. READ  

Russians say France will hand over warship
Russia says it will take delivery of a controversial French-made warship. Photo: AFP

Russians say France will hand over warship

Russia says it's due to receive its French-made Mistral warship by November 14th, according to AFP, potentially ending months of speculation over whether France would fold to international pressure to not conclude the deal. READ  

Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
Places in Paris where dinner is the price of a pint. Photo: Simon Thomas/Luca Nebuloni/Flickr

Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals

Hitting the bars in Paris can be a pricey affair, but as part of a unique custom many serve full meals for free to people who buy a drink. The Local has collected its 10 favorite bars that'll feed you for free. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
National
Eight Halloween events not to miss in Paris
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se