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Fear of halal meat a presidential campaign issue in France

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 19, 2012 | 7:53 pm

France's presidential candidate Marine Le Pen during her presidential convention in Lille Feb. 19. Photo by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Imagine a key issue in the 2012 U.S. presidential election being a fight over whether Americans were unwillingly being forced to eat kosher food. That is basically the situation in France, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen is stoking anti-immigration fears by claiming that she has proof that all meat in Paris is halal and that distributors have been lying to consumers.

Reuters reports:

“This situation is a real deception and the government has been fully aware of this situation for months,” Le Pen told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. “All the abattoirs in the Paris region sell halal meat without exception.”

The main meat industry association, Interbev, denied the allegation saying the vast majority of the meat in Paris is not slaughtered under halal or kosher practices. “While some halal and kosher meat does find its way into other distribution channels, that doesn’t affect the quality of the product in any way,” the association’s president Dominique Langlois told France Info radio.

Incredibly, people actually care about this. Moreover, it’s OK for a French presidential candidate to run on a platform that stokes fears about the Others.

Then again, this shouldn’t be that surprising coming from France. Much of Europe is divided over immigration issues and the far right has capitalized on concerns about the Islamization of Europe. And France has been right in the middle of it.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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