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Marine Animals

The French President has taken up the far-right line on ritual slaughter

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Nicolas Sarkozy.(LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s election season in France, which, as it does in all countries, means a collective drop in IQ. In a Tuesday debate, President Nicolas Sarkozy repeated his Saturday call for “the ticketing [labeling] of meat according to its method of slaughter.” Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Francois Fillon suggested on the radio that it was time Muslims and Jews forgo ritual slaughter.

The reason this is a discussion in an election year with, let us say, bigger fish to fry, is thanks to Front National leader Marine le Pen, the eldest daughter of its Holocaust-denying founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and who a month earlier claimed that all meat sold in greater Paris was Halal—which people were innocently eating without knowing it.

As Robert Zaretsky reported in Tablet Magazine, the younger Le Pen has made a sustained attempt to rid the party of its anti-Semitic image since assuming leadership, replacing classic anti-Semitism with a an apparently more voter-friendly anti-Arab and anti-immigrant platform and even reaching out to the Jewish community and trolling for votes in Israel. It’s come at a cost though, as the change hasn’t sat well with the elder Le Pen or his inner-circle. Arthur Goldhammer explained on the Scroll last year that Father Le Pen was “not happy with her reorientation of the party line” and “advised her not to expel young members who made the Nazi salute, for fear of alienating ‘older elements’ in the party.”

Sarkozy’s tack to the right—and taking up of ridiculous issues—won him some Front National voters, and in some polls he is now neck and neck in the first round of elections with Socialist Francois Hollande. But, if you take for granted that Le Pen stood little chance of victory then the “collateral damage” of kosher slaughter is sure to strengthen her standing among the party’s anti-Semitic old guard, by showing them less obvious ways they can push their old “agenda” and allow her to leave one flank unprotected while she attempts to broaden the Front National’s growing appeal. The Front National won’t win the presidency—neither, most likely, will Sarkozy—but they aren’t losing much either.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy and Fillon have backtracked since Tuesday. Fillon explained to panicked Muslim and Jewish leaders that ritual slaughter won’t be banned, and Sarkozy said that labeling would be voluntary. Yet at the same Tuesday debate, Sarkozy—as many pointed out afterward, the son of a Hungarian immigrant—also took the Front National line on immigration, saying there were “too many foreigners” in France.

“I slept badly, and this morning, I’m not feeling well,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a member of the European parliament, 1960s student leader, JCALL co-founder and son of a German father. “Because he said something to me directly in the face. He told me, ‘You are an extra person.’ ”

Related:French Prime Minister Calls For End To Ritual Slaughter [JTA]
French PM Scrambles to Defuse Kosher Row [Reuters]
‘Too Many Foreigners’ in France, Sarkozy Says. [The Lede]
Ahead of French Elections, Sarkozy Makes Pitch to Jews [JTA]
Earlier: Is Marine Le Pen a Different Animal
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Geoff M says:

I understand that the motivation for Sarkozy’s statement is troubling, but wouldn’t the meat be appropriately labeled anyway, so that Jews and Muslims would know that they would be buying kosher and halal meat, respectively?

Dan Klein says:

Hi Geoff M, That’s a good question. From what I understand, the Kosher/Halal meat is usually directly sold to Kosher/Halal butchers and shops. Sometimes the surplus is sold to supermarkets.

Janet says:

Actually, last Friday Le Pen was responding to an astounding reportage on Envoyé Spécial shown Thursday night on TF2 which showed that almost all the meat in the Ile de France region (Paris and its suburbs) is now slaughtered according to Halal and Kosher methods of slashing the animal’s throat without first stunning it uconscious. This report stunned everyone and has hopefully made more Parisians vegetarians.

Phil N says:

I would hope kosher meat would be labeled as such. It sounds like he may be going for the PETA vote and other left wingers, who in the US have tried to ban the kosher method of slaughter.

It’s missleading the way you put it. The really bad comments aren’t from Sarkozy.

Robert says:

When Marine Le Pen made her statement, she misled the public about the true figures. She made people believe that more than 60 % of the meat sold in France is ‘halal’ without being labeled as such. The reality is that she was only talking about slaughterhouses in Ile de France (the county’s richest area around Paris). The true figures in this area are supposed to be 2.5 %. Later it appeared that a report exisits at the Ministry of Agriculture which shows that the figure for the whole of France is 14 %.

All Marine Le Pen does, is nothing more than Arab bashing, knowing that she can cash in on the anti-Muslim mood in France, hoping to gain votes.

Sarkozy who is trailing challenger Hollande in the polls for the next presidential elections in April, made the mistake to repeat in a different form Marine’s remark in the (idle) hope to gain votes from traditional FN voters and people who have similar ideas.
It would be far more sensible as already suggested by some comments to the above article to have some clear labeling. Politicians should rather look at real issues in France such as the national debt, the lagging economy and unemployment. Marine Le Pen is good at stirring in the “dirt”; like the father the daughter it seems…

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The French President has taken up the far-right line on ritual slaughter

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