- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2006

LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

PARIS — French authorities have begun closing down soup kitchens run by anti-immigrant groups that serve pork because the practice is offensive to Muslims, who cannot eat pork.

In Strasbourg and Nice, food handouts have been banned because they could lead to “public disorder.”

“Schemes with racial subtexts must be denounced,” Mayor Fabienne Keller said.

In Paris, police have stopped charities from serving pork soup at major stations on “administrative grounds,” claiming the soup kitchens do not have the correct papers.

The scene has been repeated all over France in recent weeks after complaints that right-wing groups have been serving “racist” food. The groups giving out the soup say it is nothing more than traditional French cuisine. They say that hundreds of homeless people will go hungry.

Angry Muslims retort, however, that they are deliberately offering ham sandwiches and soup made of pork to discriminate against those who cannot eat the meat for religious reasons.

The groups behind the soup kitchens are not formally linked, but they are associated with a nationalist organization called Bloc Identitaire.

Chantal Spieler, serving soup in Strasbourg as president of the charity Solidarite Alsacienne, was defiant when police ordered her kitchen shut down.

“For as long as there are people who are hungry and cold, I will disobey this unfair decision,” she said.

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