Posted on January 3, 2007

Pork Soup Handouts Not Racist — French Judge

Guardian Unlimited (UK), Jan. 2, 2007

Pork soup is back on the menu for homeless people in Paris after a judge ruled it could not be deemed racist.

Organisers of soup kitchens linked to extreme rightwing groups overturned a ban imposed by the city authorities over fears that its handouts discriminated against Jews and Muslims.

Police had shut down food distributions by the organisation SDF (Solidarité des Français) — the same initials as given to the homeless group Sans Domicile Fixe — because of alleged xenophobia and fears of protests.

But the judge at the administrative tribunal in Paris decided that as there was no evidence the SDF had refused to serve Jews and Muslims, who do not eat pork for religious reasons, it could not be accused of discriminating against them. The city’s police prefecture was ordered to pay €1,000 (£670) in costs to the group.

In a statement, Roger Bonnivard, the group’s president, said: “After weeks of dirty manoeuvres, intimidation, harassment, all kinds of pressure, and despite a new ban, the Paris police authorities now have to adhere to the decision. There are no legal grounds allowing anyone to ban pig soup.”

Groups across the country associated with a rightwing organisation called Bloc Identitaire have been handing out “soupe au cochon” since 2004. Last winter Fabienne Keller, the mayor of Strasbourg, justified banning the soup kitchens saying: “Schemes with racial subtexts must be denounced.”

The groups insist that they are only serving traditional Gallic fare to “our own”. Pork soup is a staple of the French pastoral heartland from which, nationalists say, all true French spring.

However, the SDF website leaves no doubt about the group’s intentions. As well as giving the recipe for pork soup, it advises how the dish should be served — with bread and wine, in a “Gallic atmosphere” with no queues.

“The only condition to eat with us: to eat pig,” it reads, concluding: “Attention, cheese, dessert, coffee, clothes, snacks go with the pig soup: no pig soup, no dessert — the only rule of our action: our own before the others.”

Paris city hall and the police refused to comment on the ruling.