Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine separatist crisis overshadows Easter celebrations

    Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels call for Russian troops after deadly clash

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

France

French town hall retreats after Ramadan sackings

©

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-08-01

A French town hall has tried to justify sacking four Muslim holiday-camp workers for not eating in the daytime because of Ramadan, then reversing its policy in the face of a national scandal.

A French town hall backtracked on Tuesday after it emerged that four Muslim holiday-camp instructors had been sacked for daytime fasting during Ramadan.

The four, from Paris suburb Gennevilliers, were part of a larger team supervising local children attending a camp in south-western France.

On July 20 [the first day of Ramadan this year, a month when Muslims fast in the day and feast after dark] an inspector noticed that they weren’t eating with their colleagues and the children, a requirement written into their contracts.

The four workers were fired on health and safety grounds, although they were paid in full for the remaining week of their contracts. They plan to contest their dismissal in France’s labour courts.

The clause requiring them to eat and drink regularly was added after an incident in 2009 when a holiday camp worker fell asleep at the wheel of a minibus which crashed, seriously injuring two teenagers.

It reads: “The instructors will make sure that they, as well as the children [in their care] will eat and take fluids, especially at mealtimes, so as to be in full possession of their faculties.”

“We did respect our contracts,” camp-worker Amir told left-leaning daily Libération on Wednesday. “We ate properly and took in enough fluids, once in the morning and then once again in the evening.”

A ‘false debate’

On Tuesday Gennevilliers’ Mayor Jacques Bourgoin said the clause was being dropped for the month of August.

The following day the Communist-run town council justified its initial decision to fire the workers on the basis of an inquiry into the 2009 accident, which found that the minibus driver had “probably” fallen asleep at the wheel because she hadn’t eaten properly.

But it blasted “scheming politicians and religious interpretations that were totally unnecessary and unwelcome”, which created a scandal based around a “false debate”.

Notably, this included the dubious input of the far-right National Front (FN), which at first hailed the “wise decision” decision to dismiss the workers, saying that those who opposed it were “making a mockery of the principles of safety and [the French tradition] of secularism.”

When the council backtracked, the anti-immigration FN accused it of “typically left-wing weakness in the face of [Islamic] community activists who are every day eroding what is in the real interest of our country.”

Meanwhile, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) called the town’s actions "an attack on religious freedom" and said it was considering pressing charges.

Gennevilliers council angrily rejected the charge: “We are suffering from unfair criticism, which is far removed from our deeply held anti-racist beliefs and our commitment to fight against discrimination. Irrational commentary has taken the place of discussion and a proper analysis of the facts.”

‘Knee-jerk and a bit clumsy’

One former Gennevilliers holiday-camp worker contacted by FRANCE 24 said he was saddened his local council, “which always puts the safety of children as its highest priority,” had been “hijacked by extreme positions.”

Mehdi Tadjouri, who is of Algerian descent, said he thought the council’s initial reaction “was possibly a bit knee-jerk and clumsy” -- but insisted it did not deserve the avalanche of criticism.

“I know the people on the town council and those working for the municipality -- they are open with people and they take differences into account,” he said.

He was also philosophical about the difficulty of the council’s position in a country where overt religiosity, especially in front of school children, is officially frowned upon.

“The French attitude to religion is that it is acceptable but should be kept personal,” he said. “When you have to explain to a group of children why you aren’t eating with them, it’s not so easy.”

Tadjourdi, who said he was not a practising Muslim but enjoyed the “special month of Ramadan” because of its strong cultural connotations, was confident Gennevilliers town council would resolve the issue with the suspended workers.

“I’m just sad that the National Front -- and also some Islamic groups -- have jumped on the bandwagon to cause a scandal and promote their views,” he said.

 

Date created : 2012-08-01

  • FRANCE

    French parliament adopts sexual harassment law

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Paris Ritz closes its doors for luxury renovation

    Read more

  • France

    Woman risks jail for defying veil ban in France

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)