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Burqa Burgers!

by dvx Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 07:02:10 AM EST

Several times on ET, we've come to the verge of virtual blows on account of France's radical response to Islamic accouterments.

Here's a new twist that sheds another light on the subject.


I found this in today's Frankfurter Allgemeine (and props thereto for limiting their snark to a single pun in the title). Unfortunately it's short, so I can't excerpt all the tasty quotes for copyright reasons. But anyway, bon appetit:

Islamisches Fastfood: Burger zweiter Klasse - Hintergründe - Politik - FAZ.NETIslamic fast food - second-class snacks [NB: the German headline is a pun on "second-class citizens" -ed.]
19. Februar 2010 Als Verkaufsschlager hat sich der ,,Halal-Burger" für das französische Schnellrestaurant der Marke Quick im Stadtzentrum von Roubaix erwiesen. Der Umsatz wurde fast verdoppelt, seit Quick Schweine- und gewöhnliches Rindfleisch aus seinem Angebot verbannt hat und nur noch den islamischen Schlachtregeln entsprechendes Fleisch verkauft.19 February 2010 - The "Halal Burger" has proved a hot seller for the French fast-food restaurant Quick in the center of the city of Roubaix. Sales have almost doubled since quick stuck pork and regular beef from its menu and now sells only meet slaughtered according to Islamic principles.
Doch jetzt will der sozialistische Bürgermeister von Roubaix, René Vandierendonck, die ,,Hohe Behörde gegen Diskriminierungen und für Gleichberechtigung" (Halde) anrufen. Vandierendonck sieht in dem ausschließlich an muslimische Bürger gerichteten Halal-Angebot eine Diskriminierung aller Andersgläubigen. Die Bevölkerungsmehrheit in Roubaix stammt aus Nordafrika, ein Großteil hat einen muslimischen Hintergrund. Der Bürgermeister droht, per Dekret dem Schnellrestaurant seine Lizenz zu entziehen. ,,Es handelt sich um eine im ganzen Land präsente Schnellrestaurantkette, deren Eigentümer noch dazu die staatliche Caisse des dépôts ist. Es entsteht ein wirkliches Diskriminierungsproblem, wenn ausschließlich Halal-Produkte angeboten werden", sagte Vandierendonck.But now the Socialist mayor of Roubaix, René Vendierendonck, wants to summon the "High Authority against Discrimination and for Equality" (HALDE). Vendierendonck sees in the halal offering targeting solely Islamic citizens as discrimination against persons of all other faiths. The majority of Roubaix' population originates from North Africa, a large proportion has an Islamic background. The mayor is threatening to revoke the fast-food restaurant's license by decree. "This is a fast-food chain with locations everywhere in our country, and its owner is the state Caisse des dépôts. It really creates a discrimination problem when they offer only halal products," said Vendierendonck.

And the fun continues with alarmed, guaranteed content-free quotes from Jean-Marie Le Pen and Education Minister Luc Chatel.

So here we have the spectacle of a small-town mayor from the very fringes of La Grande Nation (Roubaix lies north of Lille, within a stone's-throw of the Belgian border) defending the ethnic purity of that quintessential icon of French cuisine... the hamburger?

Or is he bravely crusading against dietary superstitions held by only a minority of citizens? In that case, what's next - banning kosher restaurants? Macrobiotic meals? Vegan eateries? (Admittedly those last two would be low-hanging fruit...)

Quick says they're simply test-marketing a special product line (this is one of 8 test sites), and they had to serve all-halal because otherwise mix-ups with non-halal could happen too easily. And besides, they add, Kentucky Fried Chicken already offers a halal product.

With respect to the concrete accusation of discrimination, nowhere does the article note that Quick is refusing to sell halal burgers to non-Muslims, nor is there any indication that the halal products differ materially from the non-halal sort (unless, that is, you like bacon burgers).

But despite that, if we're to believe Vandierendonck,  Le Pen and Luc Chatel,

[Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert] - and the French government is paying for it. (They're actually claiming that, btw.)

I could snark all day on this. Especially because it's so sad.

Certainly, the emergence of an Islamic sensibility (and one of the backwoods variety!) in Europe is a Bad Thing for reasons need not go into.

But the burqa bashers conveniently forget that this Islamic identity took hold in Europe (not just in France) in the context of - and as a response to - widespread alienation, marginalization and discrimination. And to the extent that it provides individuals with a sense of worth they cannot otherwise find, it is healthy.

If France was serious about bringing its Muslim citizens into the mainstream, it would address the root causes. The panicky burqa-bashing and halal-hating is just cheap politicking to scare the white folks.

Display:
Here in Fail City the construction of a Grand Mosque in a central location morphed into a civil-society project.

Just sayin...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 07:07:34 AM EST
European Tribune - Burqa Burgers!
The panicky burqa-bashing and halal-hating is just cheap politicking to scare the white folks.

Well, since the German journalists says the majority of the population of Roubaix is of North-African stock, the mayor seems to be barking up the wrong tree, wouldn't you say?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 07:24:00 AM EST
Should read burqing?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 08:56:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point, but then what motivation does he have for screaming that France is going to halal in a handbasket?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 09:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. That statistic of more than half the population of North-African origin is disinformation put about by the civilisation-clash right. It stems from a discredited book from a dozen or so years ago that claimed Roubaix was a Muslim enclave. The FAZ article is badly-informed.

  2. Roubaix is however (as a former textile industry base) a town of immigration : 16% foreign-born population according to INSEE, 2005 census; if you were to triple that number to account for second and third generations (and that would be generous counting) you would reach 48% population of immigrant origin, including Europeans (Polish, Italian, Spanish, and above all Portuguese, 14.5% of those of foreign origin in the town).

  3. Under the same mayor, Vandierendonck, Roubaix has for many years run a consensual policy associating the different national and religious groups in cultural events, discussions, etc, and bringing them into decisions via the extra-municipal immigrant populations commission. (Examples can be seen in their magazine). There's an Islamic centre (mosques nearby in Tourcoing and Lille, this is the northern suburbs of Lille), and a Buddhist pagoda. The aim seems to be fostering mutual respect and sharing of public life. How well it works, I don't know.

  4. Vandierendonck says he's not against the halal offer, but against the exclusivity in the town centre's only fast food restaurant. It may be that the ultimate public ownership of this chain is what got to him. Probably he would have done better to shut up, but I don't think he's dog-whistling. At least, going on what I can see of his past policies in Roubaix.

Two further comments: halal restaurants, shops, and supermarkets are to be found all over France, without the slightest problem.

And a Google for "Vandierendonck halal" came up with this ET diary listed on the first page. Doesn't seem to be unchaining mass communications much. Or maybe we're making it to "mass communications" status...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 10:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have access to detailed demographics, but given that Roubaix has a population of less than 100k, it's safe to say that an extremely large proportion of the population 16-24 is Muslim.

afew:

And a Google for "Vandierendonck halal" came up with this ET diary listed on the first page.

Interesting. The French Google is showing me 315k hits for "roubaix +quick +halal", including 641 news items and a couple of videos. Seems like a pretty fair splash in French media.

afew:

Vandierendonck says he's not against the halal offer, but against the exclusivity in the town centre's only fast food restaurant.

For me that's a distinction without a difference. "Halal" is a highly notional attribute that has meaning solely for Muslims. Vandierendonck's hamburger is in no way materially different for being halal, any more than his fries would be with, say, kosher salt. I find the fact that he's unwilling to concede to Muslims an entirely fictional attribute that makes them happy without affecting anyone else in the slightest selfish, to say the least.

And with all due respect to past efforts, this irrational fear response is disturbing, to say the least.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Feb 20th, 2010 at 03:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
with all due respect to past efforts

You're not showing much. Just the usual "big Muslim population", that you decide is "an extremely large proportion" of 16-24. Without considering how practising or pious. Or the existence of many others, of different religions or of none. Or of the fact that halal food outlets are in no way banned, and that the complaint in this case is that the town's only fast-food chain restaurant is serving exclusively halal and not a halal option.

I don't think the mayor was particularly bright in launching this, but I think his record does entitle him to more respect than your kneejerk choice of the words "irrational fear response".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 20th, 2010 at 03:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the town's only fast-food chain restaurant

From Google:

K.F.C Kentucky Fried Chicken
44 Boulevard Gambetta, 59100 Roubaix, France
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Feb 20th, 2010 at 04:00:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, I read that it was the only one and checked McDo and Flunch. So there's also a KFC.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 20th, 2010 at 04:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French fast-food restaurant Quick

French? They may be French-owned now, but they started in Belgium....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 07:37:51 AM EST
It's a sad day when the head of the "sane rightwing" has to be called upon to bring some sanity to this farce.

Hamburgers halal : le maire PS de Roubaix dépose plainte contre l'enseigne Quick - Des élus UMP dénoncent une "dérive communautariste" | LeMonde.frHalal Hamburgers : The Socialist Mayor of Roubaix Lodges Complaint Against the Quick Chain - UMP Representatives Denounce Communautarian Drift | LeMonde.fr
Après le maire (PS) de Roubaix, plusieurs députés UMP ont jugé que cette offre constituait "une dérive communautariste, contraire aux principes républicains". Leur chef de file, Jean-François Copé, s'est démarqué, estimant qu'il n'y avait pas de "dérive communautariste dans cette affaire-là", appelant la classe politique à se montrer "modérée sur certains sujets". Avec d'autres, il rappelle l'existence de restaurants ou de commerces exclusivement casher (conformes à la loi juive).Following the Socialist mayor of Roubaix, several UMP representatives declared that the menu amounted to "a communautarian drift, contrary to republican principles". Their leader, Jean-François Copé, distanced himself, opining that there was no "communautarian drift in this affair", calling on the political community to show "moderation on certain subjects". He reminds others of the existence of restaurants and shops that are exclusively kosher (conforming to Jewish law).


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 09:48:36 AM EST
Incidentally, JF. Copé is N.Sarkozy's archrival at UMP, although he gets some competition from D.de Villepin.

Some local context:

Local government elections in France are just three weeks away and, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, the far-right party Front National is running a list led by Marine Le Pen (yes, Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter) who is playing the usual race card: France being overwhelmed by the brown (and Muslim) hordes, etc...

Obviously, Roubaix mayor felt on the defensive, hence this "bright" idea...

by Bernard on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 04:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to buy halal meat from the supermarket because I know it won't have lactose in it (and doesn't cost a small fortune like organic meat does).  I don't often eat fast food but I'd rather get a halal kebab or burger if I fancy eating meat, for the same reason.

Serving halal doesn't exclude non-Muslims, as you say.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 10:11:27 AM EST
Exactly. Halal is okay for jews, christians, anybody. So it's absolutely non-discriminatory

Tho' you can't get halal pork (or venison?), which is a shame.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 04:43:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shrimp and most other sea food is halal, but not ok for religious Jews. And I'm sure there are other differences.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 04:55:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, remembering another halal controversy from Germany; are there safeguards in Britain for the (relatively) painless killing of animals? The aforementioned controversy was because it was found that many halal butchers used unsharp knives or didn't manage to kill the animals quickly.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 04:48:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is a smoke screen to draw attention away from the great international pinot noir scandal.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/19/BU0E1C3M81.DTL

by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 01:13:01 PM EST
Let them eat lefse.



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 01:34:17 PM EST
and don't forget the pickled herring!




She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 01:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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