National Front leader Marine Le Pen.—Photo: AP
School canteens will no longer offer non-pork meal options in towns where France’s anti-immigration far-right National Front Party won local elections, its leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday.

Ms. Marine reignited debate on a sensitive issue about the substitution meals targeting mainly Muslim and Jewish pupils for whom pork is taboo.

“We will accept no religious requirements in the school lunch menus,” she told RTL radio. “There is no reason for religion to enter into the public sphere.”

She defended the decision saying it was necessary to “save secularism.”

The FN, skilfully rebranded as more than just an anti-immigrant party, won control of 11 towns and more than 1,400 municipal seats nationwide in recent local elections, easily its best ever performance at the grassroots level of French government.

This has caused great unease among a section of the population.

Many Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities. France has one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe. The issue of halal meat is also a controversial topic in France and has been used as a political football. — AFP