A French school in being probed after it provoked outrage among parents of students in Auxerre, Burgundy for making Muslim and Jewish pupils wear coloured discs around their necks at lunchtime so canteen staff would not serve them pork
Students, who did not eat pork, at the Piedalloues primary school were ordered by staff to wear red-coloured discs while others, who did not eat meat, were given yellow discs to wear around their necks at lunchtime.
Eighteen of the school’s 1,500 pupils were made to wear the discs but the decision was taken back following protests by angry parents and community leaders, who said the move was similar of the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear under the Nazi occupation.
“It’s revolting. It reminds you of the darkest times,” a local councillor, Malika Ounès was quoted as saying. “Practices like this are not acceptable. No one has the right to impose this on children.”
A probe was ordered by the town’s Mayor, according to Christian Sautier, director of communications in the mayor’s office who added that it was “an isolated, clumsy and unfortunate initiative” that lasted only one day.
He further said that the step had been taken by the canteen staff without informing local authorities.
“When we learned about it, we fell out of our chairs,” Sautier said, adding that upon finding out authorities had ended the practise immediately.
Serving non-pork meals to school children is a sensitive issue in France with Far-Right Nationalist leaders in past having tried to force school canteens from serving non-pork meals to students. France’s former president Nicholas Sarkozy was also among centre-Right leaders to have opposed serving of pork-free options in schools.
Headscarves and other forms of clothing linked to religious observances are banned in state schools and France had also banned the wearing of full-face Islamic veils in public in 2011.