FRANCE: No pork substitutes for Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren

6 04 2014

Leader of France’s far-Right party says schools should not provide to Jewish and Muslim children by offering non-Pork alternatives for lunch

Marine Le Pen, president of far rights political party Front National (FN),

Marine Le Pen, president of far-Right political party Front National (FN)


School canteens will no longer offer non-pork meal options in towns where France’s anti-immigration far-right Front National (FN) party won local elections, its leader Marine Le Pen has said.

Mrs Le Pen reignited debate on a sensitive issue about the substitution meals targeting mainly Muslim and Jewish pupils for whom pork is taboo.

“We will accept no religious requirements in the school lunch menus,” Mrs Le Pen told RTL radio. “There is no reason for religion to enter into the public sphere.”

She defended the decision saying it was necessary to “save secularism”.

The FN, skilfully rebranded as more than just an anti-immigrant party, won control of 11 towns and more than 1,400 municipal seats nationwide in recent local elections, easily its best ever performance at the grassroots level of French government.

This has caused great unease among a section of the population.

Many Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities.

France has one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe.

The issue of halal meat is also a controversial topic in France and has been used as a political football.

Mrs Le Pen had launched a fierce row before the last presidential polls in 2012 by claiming that all meat distributed in the Paris region was halal, or slaughtered according to Islamic law, and that non-Muslim consumers were being misled.

There has been controversy in the past over whether schools and holiday camps should be required to provide halal food for Muslim children, as well as higher-profile disputes over the wearing of veils in France.

Any form of clothing linked to religious observance is banned from French state schools and since 2011 the wearing of full-face veils in public has been outlawed.

Source: The Teleghraph


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FRANCE: What is the outcome of the About- Picard law on the prevention and suppression of sects?

10 10 2013


Human Rights Without Frontiers (07.10.2013) – In June 2011, after ten years that the Law of 12th June 2001 has been in force – designed to strengthen the prevention and repression of sectarian movements affecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms (1) – Georges Fenech announced in the annual report published in Miviludes that a complete assessment of the law would be forthcoming the following year (2). The 2011 report was finally submitted two years later to the Prime Minister, simply reproducing the proceedings of a conference held in camera the 26th October 2011 in the National Assembly (3).

The first half of the report is composed of lengthy expressions of thanks and self- congratulatory comments issuing from the members of the Palais Bourbon study group on sects and from other anti-sect activists, including lively criticism of those who have expressed fears about this repressive legislation.

It is only during the intervention of Mrs Maryvonne Caillibotte (Director of Criminal Affairs and Pardons) and only at that time that we finally have real results with some figures:

“Regarding the statistical evidence, in 2010, we know a hundred criminal proceedings in connection with sectarian activities which have been identified as such. [ ... ] In terms of convictions of the main perpetrator of fraudulent abuse of weakness, since 2004, 35 convictions have been established. However, only a few were committed in the context of sectarian activities.” (4)

This specific data implies the following two observations:

First of all, the few cases (probably less than one per year) that have led to a conviction for “fraudulent abuse of the state of weakness” over the past year reveal how the “sectarian infraction” is insignificant in comparison to the real problems of French society. However, the proceedings initiated are not lacking, considering the conditioning in various media that has been promoted by anti-sect organizations. If nothing else, in 2010, one hundred criminal proceedings were initiated. And the representative of the Ministry does not hide the fact of having exerted “pressure” on the court to get the desired result … (5)

Secondly, the law includes in its title the main target, that is to say,” cults,” without giving a legal definition. This law has been essentially used outside of the sectarian context. On the one hand, parliamentary proceedings have been wrongly focused on this non-issue. On the other hand, it confirms the fears that a law of this kind can easily be sidetracked from its original intent.

The rest of the evaluation proposed by Miviludes is only a reminder of the whole legislative arsenal which has been voted in over time, not to mention the more concrete question of what it actually accomplished.

In a legal analysis of these legislative efforts, Professor Patrice Rolland reached at that time the following conclusion:

“In general, the law of 12 June 2001 is a mediocre law that reflects in a passive manner the perplexities of French public opinion with regard to what it calls sects. Failure to understand the purpose and meaning of these transformations of religious sentiment may in fact undermine a fundamental freedom or perhaps, because of this risk, remain undeliverable. This is probably the best that one could wish for.” (6)

In the end, the results have been relatively positive: this law has not reached the goal of some draconian political figures involved in the fight against what they see as threatening sects.


(1) Loi n° 2001-504 du 12 juin 2001 tendant à renforcer la prévention et la répression des mouvements sectaires portant atteinte aux droits de l’homme et aux libertés, Journal officiel, n°135, 13 juin 2001, p. 9337.

(2) Rapport au Premier ministre 2010, Miviludes, La Documentation française, 2011, p. 7.

(3) Rapport au Premier ministre 2011-2012, Miviludes, La Documentation française, 2013, pp. 39-88.

(4) Ibid., p. 61.

(5) Ibid., p. 59.

(6) Patrice Rolland, « La loi du 12 juin 2001 contre les mouvements sectaires portant atteinte aux Droits de l’Homme. Anatomie d’un débat législatif », Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 121 | 2003, 149-166.

Source : (Translation French-English by Human Rights Without Frontiers)

President of French anti-religious organization MIVILUDES convicted by Criminal Court of Paris

28 06 2012

Paris Criminal Court , photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP

Georges Fenech, the president of French anti-religious organization MIVILUDES (an acronym for Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires – Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combatting Cultic Deviances), was convicted for public defamation by the Paris criminal court on June 1, 2012 .
The defamation case started because of a defamatory accusations against lay Catholics association called French Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) whiuch were published in the 2009 annual report of MIVILUDES. The 17th Chamber of the Criminal Court of Paris, specializing in cases concerning the press, stressed the lack of accuracy in the report as well as the lack of restraint in its expressions. The court also emphasized that a state agency such as MIVILUDES should not use vague approximations in its work.

Both George Fenech and MIVILUDES have earned an international reputation for repressing religious minorities and violating the European Convention on Human Rights. By being convicted of public defamation, George Fenech has tarnished his name – and the reputation of MIVILUDES.

Central-European Religious Freedom Institute congratulates the Paris Criminal Court for convicting Fenech – and in so doing, taking a step forward in advancing the rights of religious minorities in France.

Sikhs win turban case against France at the United Nations

17 01 2012
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy ( ICHRA)
/ Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)
“The UN Human Rights Committee has asked France to submit a report by March 15th on measures it is taking to remedy the violation of the religious freedom of 76 year old Ranjit Singh,who was asked to remove his turban for his ID photo” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, who is in the fore-front of a legal campaign for French Sikhs’ right to wear their turban. 

ICHR (12.01.2012) / HRWF (16.01.2011) - The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has concluded that France had violated the religious freedom of 76 year old Ranjit Singh when he was asked to remove his turban for his ID photograph. This was disclosed today at a media conference, in Bobigny (near Paris), by the UNITED SIKHS legal team, who had filed a communication on behalf of Ranjit Singh to the UNHRC in December 2008.

The media conference was told that the UNHRC observed that “even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author’s (Ranjit Singh’s) freedom of religion on a continuing basis because he would always appear without his religious head covering in the identity photograph and could therefore be compelled to remove his turban during identity checks.”

The Committee said that France had failed to explain how the Sikh turban hindered identification since the wearer’s face would be visible and he would be wearing the turban it at all times, therefore, the regulation constituted a violation of article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was entered into force for France on 4 February 1981. You may read the Committees views in full here. The views were adopted at the 102nd session of the Committee’s sitting.

“I had faith that truth and justice would prevail and I patiently waited for this day. I pray that France will now fulfil its obligation and grant me a residence card bearing my photo without baring my head,” said Ranjit Singh, who despite his ill-health has had no access to the public health-care system or to social benefits since 2005 because his residence card was refused due to his refusal to remove his turban.

UNITED SIKHS is heartened by the Committee’s observations that France is under an obligation to provide Ranjit Singh with an effective remedy, including a reconsideration of his application for a renewal of his residence permit and a review of the relevant legislative framework and its application in practice. France, the Committee noted, is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, who addressed the media conference.

“We now look to France to fulfil its treaty obligations under International law and its moral duty to ensure that the freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone who lives within its territory,” she added.
“We are very pleased with the views that the Committee adopted and we welcome France’s compliance with these findings. We also look forward to a similar resolution for Shingara Singh, whose case is still pending before the Committee,” O’Melveny & Myers, a New York law firm engaged by UNITED SIKHS, said in a statement through their attorneys who spoke during a telephone interview. A decision is still awaited for Shingara Singh, whose passport has not been renewed by France because he refused to remove his turban for his ID photograph.

Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
Legal Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy ( ICHRA)

US Congress condemns France for repression of religious freedom

21 11 2011

The U.S. Congress reacted to the publication of a bulletin from the french Ministry of Justice. This bulletin, which has already been the object of polemical discussions in recent days, “instructs prosecutors and judges of courts of appeal to consider certain religious practices, such as fasting, as means of psychological subjection”.

In a letter to Prime Minister Francois Fillon dated October 28, co-signed by the presidents of House International Religious Freedom Caucus, the members of U.S. Congress, express their worries: “We are worried because there is no chance of real justice for these movements (religious minority) and this appears as a direct intervention of the executive power to influence and direct the decisions of judges in criminal cases.”

Congressmen also tackle the About Picard law. They recall that in 2002 the Council of Europe demanded that this worrying legislation may be “reconsidered”, which France never did.

Finally, they expressly demand that the financing by the state of associations as the FECRIS “attacking and defaming individuals and communities on the basis of their beliefs and practices, often in coordination with Miviludes” be stopped.

(For the full text of the letter in pdf format, please click here)

Source: FOREF Europe-Forum for Religious Freedom Europe

Belgium’s new burqa ban challenged in court

30 07 2011

A burqa and niqab ban came into force in Belgium on Saturday with the threat of fines and jail time, but the law faced an immediate court challenge from two women who wear the full Islamic veil.

Belgium joined France as the second European Union nation to enforce such a ban. The Belgian law, which prohibits people from wearing anything that hides their face in public places, was approved unanimously by the parliament in April.

Offenders will face a fine of 137.50 euros ($197) and up to seven days behind bars. Two Muslim women who wear full veils decided Friday to challenge the ban in the country’s constitutional court, Belgian media reported. “We consider the law as a disproportionate intrusion into fundamental rights such as the freedom of religion and expression,” Ines Wouters, the women’s lawyer, was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Libre.

“This measure is discriminatory,” Wouters said.

France — home to Europe’s biggest Muslim population — became the first EU country to ban the burqa on April 11. In France, a woman who repeatedly insists on appearing veiled in public can be fined 150 euros and ordered to attend re-education classes.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, criticised burqa and niqab bans this week, saying such measures threaten to exclude women rather than liberating them.

“In fact, the banning may run counter to European human rights standards, in particular the right to respect for one’s private life and personal identity,” he said.

“The way the dress of a small number of women has been portrayed as a key problem requiring urgent discussion and legislation is a sad capitulation to the prejudices of the xenophobes.”

source: THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy


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