July 22, 2011
France’s highest administrative court handed down a final ruling on five cases involving the public use of funds for religious purposes. In June 2007 an administrative court blocked 380,000 Euros the city of Le Mans wanted to use to set up a Muslim slaughterhouse. The court ruled that the space was meant for religious practices and, according to France’s 1905 law on the separation of church and state, it could not be built with taxpayer money. The city of Le Mans appealed the ruling to France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, arguing that the slaughterhouse served local obligations to ensure public health and hygiene.
On 19 July 2011, the Council handed down a final ruling on the Le Mans slaughterhouse and four other cases, favouring religious groups. The rulings, which also considered disputes over the installation of an access elevator for a Catholic basilica, the restoration of a church organ and the use of public spaces for two different mosque projects, have gone mostly unnoticed. The slaughterhouse project is back on track.
The town of Trélazé can keep and use public funds to restore a church organ, the Council said, but the organ must be made available to non-members of the congregation for music classes and concerts. Muslims in Le Mans can have a slaughterhouse, but must share this space with non-Muslims who also want to use the premises.