A French conservative mayor has pledged to ban school food menus that don’t include pork in a bid to promote secularism in schools.
Michel Rotger, the mayor of Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur in Eastern France and a member of the right-wing Republican party, claimed his decision to ban “alternative menus” that don’t include pork would promote secular values in the society as well as save government money, L’Express reported.
“We are putting an operation in place so the children eat everything and their diets are balanced. There is too much waste so we will teach them to eat meat, be it poultry or pork,” the mayor said.
Rotger informed parents of his decision in a letter, saying the school food menus containing pork would encourage the “ideas of secularism”. Children with medical allergies, however, will be able to opt out from the pork-filled menus.
The move has drawn criticism from human rights groups. Paul Garrigue, president of a hub of groups that includes the League of Human Rights and Amnesty International, slammed the mayor’s announcement as “anti-Muslim”.
“Today, we are talking about secularism in a generally anti-Muslim way,” Garrigue said. “We see secularism as a tool of tolerance and living together and not exclusion.”
The Mayor fired back against the criticism, citing a recommendation from the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) that urged to abandon “denominational menus” in schools a couple of years ago.