A halal supermarket in a Paris suburb has been told to start stocking pork and alcohol or face being shut down by the local authority.
Good Price discount mini-market in Colombes has been told by the local housing authority, from which it leases its premises, that failing to sell non-halal goods puts it in breach of its contract, which stipulates that the shop must act as a “general food store”.
The shop, which is run as a franchise, last year replaced another local general convenience store which had provided a full range of goods. The local authority is arguing that by limiting its range to halal goods, the shop is failing to serve the whole community.
“The mayor of Colombes, Nicole Goueta, went there herself and asked the owner to diversify the range of products by adding alcohol and non-halal meats,” the mayor’s chief of staff, Jérôme Besnard, told The Telegraph.
“We want a social mix. We don’t want any area that is only Muslim or any area where there are no Muslims.”
Adding that the reaction would have been the same had a kosher shop opened in the same location, he said that locals, particularly older residents, had complained that they could no longer purchase the full range of goods from the shop and were having to travel some distance to get groceries.
The Colombes authority is now taking legal action to end the lease on the premises early, rather than in 2019 when the lease expires. It argues that the store is breaching French republican principles by prioritising a certain group within society rather than catering to all.
However, Soulemane Yalcin, who runs the shop under franchise, says he is merely catering to the local clientele.
““It’s business,” he told Le Parisien.
“I look around me and I target what I see. The lease states ‘general food store and related activities’ – but it all depends on how you interpret ‘related activities’.”
He has hired a lawyer to fight the eviction bid. The case comes to court in October.
Meanwhile, a southern French town, Pennes-Mirabeau, near Marseille, is also taking legal action to prevent a claimed breach of French republican principles.
The mayor of Pennes-Mirabeau is seeking to ban an event at a local water park which is only open to burkini-clad women, girls, and boys under the age of ten. Burkinis are garments worn by Muslim women to cover their heads, arms, body and legs while swimming.
The organisers of the event say the dress code is necessary as male swimming guards will be in attendance, arguing that it does not contravene rules which ban women-only events or the wearing of burkinis in municipal pools as it is a private event.
But the mayor has said he is outraged by the “provocation,” and has vowed to use a local bylaw to ban the event on the grounds that it could provoke public disorder.