A French prison has been ordered to provide halal meals for Muslim prisoners pending a definitive ruling on the latest issue to pit the country's secular tradition against Islamic practice.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira is contesting a November ruling by an administrative tribunal in Grenoble that the local Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison should provide halal meals on the basis that failing to do so would violate Muslim prisoners' right to practice their religion.

Pending a ruling on the principle involved, the justice ministry sought a suspension of the tribunal's decision on the grounds that it was impractical for the prison to completely change its catering arrangements.

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