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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-15

On the surface it looks like a picnic for young people to celebrate French heritage. But the fact that invitees are encouraged to eat pork and drink wine where Muslims gather for Friday prayers hints that a different agenda could be at work.

A growing French trend for spontaneous and merrily anarchic open-air drinks parties organised on Facebook has taken a different twist – with an “apéro” (aperatif) being organised in a Muslim neighbourhood of Paris.

The “apéro”, or drinks party, dubbed “saucisson et pinard” (pork sausage and plonk) is billed to take place at Rue Myrha in Paris’ 18th district on Friday.

The street has a large immigrant population and is regularly blocked to traffic when local Muslims gather for Friday prayers.

On the Facebook page promoting Friday’s event, organisers claim the street “and others in the neighbourhood are occupied, particularly on Friday, by resolute adversaries of our national wines and our traditional French charcuterie products [cold meats, particularly pork].”

Sylvie François (not her real name) set up the Facebook group, claiming that she no longer feels at home in her neighbourhood.

“Ethnic French people can no longer take a drink in peace round here,” she told left-wing daily newspaper Libération. “You get odd looks for being a woman who is not wearing a veil, dressed with a little bit of elegance.”

Pork-based soup kitchens

François claims that the apéro is not a political event, but merely a celebration of French culture in a part of the capital she believes has become too Muslim.

But her initiative, which she claims has more than 3,500 adherents on Facebook, has the support of several right-wing groups – including “Riposte Laique” (Secular Counter-attack), “Bloc Identaire” (Identity Bloc) and “Solidarité avec les Français”.

These last two groups are known for having organised pork-based soup kitchens in cities across France, with the intention of feeding only non-Muslim homeless people. These soup kitchens were banned in 2007 by the French authorities for being discriminatory and likely to cause public disorder.

French anti-racism pressure group SOS-Racisme has condemned this latest development.

“This apéro is clearly racist,” a group spokesman told Le Post newspaper. “The organisers are basing it along the same principles as the pork soup kitchens.”

Giant drinks parties have become an increasingly popular phenomenon in France, although to date these have been more about getting young people out, drinking and having fun in city centres, often to the chagrin of local authorities.

François says she is in discussions with the Paris police, and has taken on lawyers should the city attempt to impose a ban on the event.

The police said they would release a statement on Wednesday.


Date created : 2010-06-14


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