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by Euro Reporter
2010-02-22 07:44:33
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Politicians pounce on halal burger row

A move by a French fast-food chain to offer halal menus at a handful of restaurants has some politicians fuming, in the latest row over France's increasingly visible Muslim minority.  The Quick chain has taken pork off its menu in eateries in Roubaix, northern France, as well as in Marseille and in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil to try to tap into the growing market of Muslim customers. But politicians from the left and right have complained that the switch to no-bacon hamburgers, launched three months ago in November, is depriving non-Muslims of their right to the standard menu.
They argue that non-Muslims now have to trek to the suburbs to get a bacon burger as Quick is the only fast-food place in the city centre. Roubaix town leaders on Thursday filed a complaint for discrimination, their lawyer Frank Berton told AFP. He said Quick was effectively making the supplying of its products conditional on religious affiliation.
"I'm not bothered by the fact that there is a halal menu," said Roubaix's Mayor Rene Vandierendonck. "But this is going too far because it is the only menu on offer and it has become discrimination." French far-right politician Marine Le Pen suggested the Halal menus were providing a financial boost to Muslim organisations that certify meat as having been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic practices. Le Pen condemned the menu switch as "unacceptable" and denounced a form of "Islamisation". In cities and towns across France, Quick's red-and-white signs are as familiar a sight as McDonald's golden arches, offering the usual array of hamburgers, french fries and soft drinks.


Only surviving Casanova manuscript enters French National Library

A rare manuscript by the 18th-century libertine Casanova, recalling his sexual conquests and many adventures, has entered the collection of France's National Library, the institution said. The French manuscript of "The Story Of My Life" forms the core of 3,700 precious pages acquired by the state library, an official told AFP, calling it the collection's "biggest heritage acquisition" ever.
Specialists say it is the only surviving manuscript by Casanova, a Venetian adventurer and womaniser whose name has become synonymous with seduction due to his own accounts of his affairs, written in French from the 1780s. The museum said an anonymous patron spent seven million Euros (9.5 million dollars) to help the library acquire the manuscripts from the heirs of a German publisher who acquired them in the 19th century.


Man who forced wife to wear burqa is denied French citizenship

A foreign national who forced his French wife to wear the full Islamic veil will be denied French citizenship, the immigration minister said. Eric Besson said he had signed a decree rejecting the man's citizenship application after it emerged that he had ordered his wife to cover herself with the head-to-toe veil. "It emerged during the inquiry and the interview process that this person forced his wife to wear the full veil, deprived her of freedom of movement with her face exposed and rejected the principles of secularism and equality between men and women," said Besson in a statement.

The man's name and nationality were not made public. The decision came after a parliament report last week called for a ban on the full Islamic veil in all schools, hospitals, government offices and public transport. The French government is seeking legal advice before drafting legislation that would outlaw the burqa or niqab in as many areas as possible, Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has proclaimed the burqa "not welcome" in secular France and come out in favour of legislation to outlaw the veil, but has warned against stigmatising Muslims. Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, France has been debating whether to ban the burqa that is worn by a small group of women -- about 1,900, according to the interior ministry. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said last month that Muslim men who force their wives to wear the full veil should not be granted French citizenship. A French court denied citizenship to a veiled Moroccan woman on the grounds that her "radical" practice of Islam was incompatible with French values.

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