• France's news in English
 
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

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'Outdated ancestral traditions'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
France - weather
Year 2014 is warmest in France since 1900
France is set for its warmest year since 1900. But it may not be time to celebrate. Photo: Shutterstock

Year 2014 is warmest in France since 1900

Barring an unlikely Arctic weather snap to end the year France will record its hottest year since 1900 with average temperatures in 2014 1.2 °C higher on than they've been for over a century. READ  

Ten dishes that make a French Christmas feast
Le Reveillon - the traditional Christmas eve "awakening" dinner in France. Bring your Gaviscon or Rennie indigestion tablets.

Ten dishes that make a French Christmas feast

Christmas Eve marks the culinary highlight of the year for French families, when they settle down for "Le Reveillon", a marathon feast fit for kings (as long as they're not vegetarians) which often begins AFTER midnight mass. See what they will be gorging on in the early hours of Christmas Day. READ  

'Allahu Akbar' attacks: Hollande wants vigilance
Forensic police collect evidence outside the police station of Joue les-Tours where French were attacked by a knifeman shouting "Allahu Akbar". Photo: Guimmaume Souvant/AFP

'Allahu Akbar' attacks: Hollande wants vigilance

UPDATED: Concerns in France over the threat of lone wolf terrorist attacks were heightened on Monday after two separate random attacks on police and pedestrians by men shouting “Alluha Akbar”. President François Hollande has called for the 'utmost vigilance'. READ  

France's only kosher vineyard fights its corner
Sartene's vineyard is the only one in Europe to produce wine that's 100 percent kosher. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

France's only kosher vineyard fights its corner

It was a visit to Jerusalem that inspired Frenchman Alexandre Sartene to start the world's third kosher vineyard outside Israel which, despite a rocky start, now exports as far as Brazil. READ  

France's Amazon strike puts pressure on Santa
Amazon workers in the company warehouses in France “walk up to 22 kilometres a day according to calculations with a pedometer”. Photo: Andrew Yates/AFP

France's Amazon strike puts pressure on Santa

A major French trade union has called on Amazon workers to go on strike on Monday to demand a salary hike and better working conditions, a decision likely to have an effect on anyone in France hoping to buy last minute Christmas gifts on the online shopping portal. READ  

Ligue 1 round-up
Marseille win to ensure top spot at Christmas
Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa celebrates after his team scores against Lille on Sunday. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Marseille win to ensure top spot at Christmas

Marseille will end the year on top of Ligue 1 after beating Lille on Sunday. Marcelo Bielsa's team finish the first half of the season three points ahead of rivals PSG and two ahead of Lyon. Here's a round-up of all the latest action from Ligue 1 READ  

France braces for doctors' Christmas strike
ER doctors are due to kick off the protest on Monday. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

France braces for doctors' Christmas strike

France is bracing for a major strike over the Christmas period by overworked doctors, including casualty staff and specialists, unhappy about a new health bill. READ  

Driver yelling 'Allahu Akbar' rams pedestrians
Police examine evidence after a driver ploughed into pedestrians in Dijon. Photo: Arnaud Finistre/AFP

Driver yelling 'Allahu Akbar' rams pedestrians

A driver shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") ploughed into pedestrians in eastern France Sunday, injuring 11 of them, just a day after a man yelling the same words was killed in an attack on police officers. READ  

French favour end of force-fed foie gras
Photo: Kevorks Djansezian/Getty Images/ AFP

French favour end of force-fed foie gras

Almost one out of every two French people now favour banning the force-feeding of geese and ducks to produce the national delicacy, foie gras, a survey showed. READ  

Journo sparks outcry with 'insular Muslim' jibe
Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP

Journo sparks outcry with 'insular Muslim' jibe

Prominent French journalist Eric Zemmour was back in the spotlight Saturday after being barred by a news channel for saying Muslims were elbowing French people out of the suburbs. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
How many will you have? 10 dishes to make up a French Christmas feast
National
Conspiracy theory: Was the missing Malaysia Airlines flight shot down?
National
Santa bikers ride through Paris for orphans
Culture
Top 10 tackiest 'Made in France' gifts
Gallery
10 traditions that make a French Christmas
Culture
GALLERY: The French language's fixation with 'les Anglais'
Society
So what does the web tell us about the French in the year 2014
Society
Have the French fallen out of love with Christmas?
National
Immigration in France: Hollande hits back at the scaremongers
Culture
What's on: 10 things to do in France before Christmas
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
Muslims rule France in 2022: The bad boy of French literature is back
Gallery
There are so many things that claim to be French but aren't. Here are 12.
National
Crazy cat stories: Moggie returns after 1,200km trek across France
National
Tea sets for boys? French feminists protest 'gendered' Christmas presents
National
Jacques Chirac's 'head' - The perfect place to hide 1.5 kilos of weed
Gallery
Myths debunked: 11 things you (wrongly) presumed about France
National
Prices are tumbling but the property ladder is increasingly out of reach for the French
Education
IN IMAGES: French universities 'in ruin'. The students have the evidence
National
Life's about to get a lot cheaper for Paris commuters. Or is it?
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for partying with the French this Christmas
National
Some famous French fine wines are under threat from high speed trains
National
VIDEO: Homeless bodybuilder turns the streets of Paris into his gym
Business & Money
Noble Prize for Economics: Six things to know about Jean Tirole
Culture
Nobel Literature Prize: Ten things to know about Patrick Modiano
Gallery
Looking for a good Christmas market in France? Here's our top 10
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The top 15 new inventions to come out of France
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Gallery
Miss France Farmer: The contest to find a 'real French beauty'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Lyon's spectacular festival of lights dazzles once again
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Ten French Bond girls through the ages
National
Outrage forces French city to scrap yellow triangle ID cards for homeless
Gallery
Who does Christmas better - The French or Anglos? We decide.
National
All you need to know about the new French Bond girl Léa Seydoux
International
'My iPod's broken' - French jihadists moan about lack of home comforts
National
Race you to the top of the Eiffel Tower. No seriously, I'll race you.
National
And what if Mona Lisa was really a slave from China?
Opinion
Why company bosses in France have just about had enough
National
What impact did a 'giant butt plug' in Paris have on sales of sex toys?
Travel
National Geographic's top world destination for 2015 is in France.
Society
French babies switched at birth: Families seek €12 million damages
National
Why are so many French police officers taking their own lives?
Society
Immigration in France: Ten numbers that matter
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Sarko is back in the ring: Did he ever really leave it?
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
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