(JTA) — Non-pork options for Jewish and Muslim students will no longer be offered in school menus in towns where France’s far-right National Front party won local elections, the head of the party said.
“We will not accept any religious demands in school menus,” National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said in an interview on RTL radio on Friday. “There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that’s the law.”
National Front candidates were elected mayors in 11 municipalities in the vote on March 30 — a dramatic increase over the party’s previous record of four mayors in 1997, the news site europe1.fr reported. A record number of French voters did not cast ballots, however.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association, strongly condemned Marine Le Pen’s “vicious call that undermines religious freedom in France.”
Margolin told JTA that he has called upon all “enlightened forces” in France and the European Union, “to unite against the exclusion of entire populations from educational institutions in the country.”
A law passed in 2004 in France bans the wearing of all conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, including kippahs and Islamic veils and headscarves. A law passed in 2010 bans the wearing of face veils in public places.