Robert Marquand, Christian Science Monitor, June 17, 2010
French organizers of a so-called “pork sausage and booze” party in Paris–designed as a deliberate provocation against Muslims–will move it from a heavily Muslim neighborhood to the Arc de Triomphe on Friday.
The group, “Identity Block,” called the new venue “Plan B,” after Paris police banned their bash this week on grounds of maintaining public order.
Advertised on Facebook and receiving some 7,000 RSVPs, the party is billed as a “resistance to the Islamization of France.” It was initially planned to take place next to a mosque in the 18th district after Friday prayers, and on the same day as the English-Algerian World Cup soccer match.
Today, the group sent out a press release, calling upon “all Parisians . . . and French” to meet at the Arc de Triomphe Friday to eat ham and drink grape juice, fly French flags, protest the police ban, and listen to speeches against “religious control of public space” in France–a reference to the majority Arab-Muslim Goutte d’Or neighborhood where the sausage and wine party was to be held.
Fadela Amara, a French federal minister of Algerian origin, calls the implicit protest against Muslims “hateful, racist, and xenophobic.”
The plan to hold a pork-and-wine bash in Goutte d’Or, where the overcrowded mosque spills into the streets on Fridays, was considered provocative enough to cause a riot. Islam forbids the consumption of pork and alcoholic beverages.
The pork bash and protest is also seen as an example of Facebook’s power to quickly mobilize large crowds. The right-wing pork party is a further morphing here of a new fad called “apéro géant”–huge binge-drinking parties organized overnight on Facebook. Apéro is short for apéritif, and geant means giant.
French authorities have lately reined in apéro géant after a man fell off a bridge and was killed; an apéro géant aiming at 10,000 drinkers beneath the Eiffel Tower two weeks ago was also banned.
Some conservative media have played the pork party ban as an abridgment of free speech.
Marine Le Pen, deputy leader of the right-wing National Front (FN) party, calls the ban a “capitulation” by authorities to Muslims.
Websites associated with the party claim Goutte d’Or has become so Islamized that pork is no longer sold there. But French media in recent days have published photos of piles of pork sausages and ham legs in the windows of shops in the Paris neighborhood.