Mr Berthomé, the Mayor of Saint-Seurin
Marcel Berthomé, the centrist mayor of Saint-Seurin, a town in western France, said Muslims would have to make do with a side dish on pork days because the “struggling” Saint-Seurin-sur-l'Isle primary school could no longer afford to offer children a non-pork alternative.
But Mr Berhomé’s decision to scrap pork-free meals from the menu has caused consternation among Muslim parents, who claim their children are being discriminated against because of their faith.
Sonia, a mother whose five-year-old son does not eat pork, said the mayor had launched a scathing attack on the local Muslim community.
Mr Berthomé says the school cannot afford to make two different meals a day
Muslim parents claim their children are being discriminated against because of their faith
The town is in debt and we cannot afford to cook two different dishes a day. So, if you’re not happy, don’t eat at school!
She told the French daily France Bleu: “The mayor took this decision alone. We, as parents, were not consulted.
"I am a Muslim, yes, but I am also a citizen. We’re no different than anyone else.
"We pay local taxes and we pay for our children’s school meals. It should not be up to the mayor to decide what’s in my child’s plate.
"He’s basically saying: ‘You eat or you go’.
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Another Muslim mother said: “How hard can it be to cook 10 or 15 beef patties once or twice a week?”
But Mr Berhomé hit back after parents threatened to protest against the new menu, insisting he removed pork-free options for “financial reasons”.
He said: “Some children don’t eat pork, some don’t eat fish and some don’t eat beef. This is not a politically motivated decision. I do not want Muslims to feel stigmatised. The town is in debt and we cannot afford to cook two different dishes a day. So, if you’re not happy, don’t eat at school!”
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said a handful of Muslim school children – no more than 15 – would be affected by the new pork-studded menu.