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Wed 1 Aug 2012 12:03 PM

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French mayor u-turns on Ramadan fasting row

Local council says it will re-instate Muslims suspended for fasting while looking after children

French mayor u-turns on Ramadan fasting row
(Image for illustrative purposes only)

A local council in France which suspended four sports instructors for observing Ramadan while taking care of children, has been forced to reinstate the teachers in a bid to quell controversy.

The mayor of Gennevilliers suspended the instructors on 20 July after claiming their refusal to eat or drink was a breach of contract and could put children’s safety at risk. The move provoked outrage among Muslim leaders and Europe’s largest Muslim community.

Mayor Jacques Bourgoin defended the decision to suspend the instructors after an inspector visited the summer camp and noticed they were not eating. 

“They did not respect the terms of their contract in a way that could have endangered the physical safety of the children they were responsible for,” he said in a statement.

The Gennevilliers town hall later said it would drop a clause from contracts for workers at the camp that states employees must eat lunch during August.

The incident is the latest in a series of episodes that highlights the growing unease between French authorities and the country’s minority Muslim population. Three Saudi women in June were refused entry to the country after declining to lift their face veils for boarder police at Charles de Gaulle airport.

France became the first European country to prohibit the wearing of the full veil in public places when it introduced the ban in 2011. The country’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy labelled it “a sign of servitude” and said it was not welcome in France, which is home to about 5m Muslims.

Offenders are fined €150 (US$216) and ordered to attend citizenship classes. Repeat offenders who refuse to pay up can be sent to prison. Similar laws have since been passed in Belgium and the Netherlands.

France also outlawed praying in the street in September, after a lack of prayer space in big cities forced Muslims to lay their prayer mats on the streets.

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Stephanie Anderson 8 years ago

They leave out that a child WAS seriously injured last year because a fasting Muslim lost consciousness while driving and that is why they wanted the counselors to eat, not out of some discrimination against Muslims.

fatafat 8 years ago

oh really

Bice Rossi 8 years ago

Even here in UAE the police said to drive carefully because the fasting people are more dangerous driver….
Lots of people can feel sick during fasting, hospital know..

Bice 8 years ago

I want to see if 3 french women would try to enter in Saudi in bikini...... I would like to see the reaction of the 3 Saudi women that try to enter in France with the face cover.....

bice 8 years ago

And I would like to see the reaction of Arab people if thousand of Christian each Sunday will start to pray publically in shopping mall on in the middle of residential street….