Chalon-sur-Saone’s UMP mayor Gilles Platret eliminated his town’s alternative cafeteria menu, preventing Muslim students who do not eat pork from being offered another option. His decision has divided the UMP. It’s not the first time a similar decision has been made. Sargé-lès-Le Mans (Sarthe) and Arveyres both made similar decisions in December 2014 and March 2013. But why didn’t this cause a national uproar? Perhaps because the concerned towns have relatively low populations (3,500 and 1,900 respectively,) but also because their mayors did not identify with a major political party.
UMP president Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to support the decision. At the same time, MP Arnaud Robinet argued that offering an alternative to pork “is not communitarianism.” Henri Guaino, former advisor to Nicolas Sarkozy, Nice’s MP Christian Strosi, former minister Rachida Dati and UMP parliament leader Christian Jacob all have varying opinions on the subject, some deploring the incessant debate.
Nicolas Sarkozy has found himself practically abandoned by his party, even those who normally support his rightist approach. Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, first secretary noted the strategy is used to “take the National Front’s votes,” by opposing an alternative menu to pork. The National Front’s program? “To combat communitarianism and Islamic fundamentalism” in the name of secularism.