Excerpt:

Just weeks after a row erupted over a French fast-food chain selling halal burgers - or burgers prepared according to Islamic practices - a food fair featuring halal has opened in Paris this week.

The halal burger controversy erupted when French fast-food chain Quick announced that it was selling halal meat in eight of its restaurants. This resulted in the mayor of a small French town with one of these restaurants to file a formal complaint accusing Quick of discrimination against non-Muslims.

In a country that takes its food and secularism as seriously as France does, this argument was always going to run and run. Thus it was no great surprise when French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire further fuelled the storm by declaring that when restaurants "remove all the pork" from their menus, they "fall into communalism, which is against the principles and spirit of the French republic".

The debate left a bitter aftertaste in a nation that has just spent the past few months engaged in a government-introduced "national identity debate" which raised more questions than it answered.


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