I’ve been following the success of French fast-food chain “Quick” as eight of its 362 restaurants in France have stopped serving pork and started offering Halal burgers instead.
You won’t get bacon on your burger at any of these 8 outlets, each of which are located in Muslim neighbourhoods. Whilst French Muslims didn’t make the choice, sales indicate that the Muslim community appreciates the gesture, which has been in place since last November.
The pork-less Quick isn’t the first fast-food chain in France or indeed anywhere else to offer concessions to religious dietary concessions: Kosher McDonalds and Burger Kings have been around in Israel and the US for some time.
For Muslims, the move to purge pork from the menu means families can take their kids to fast food restaurants without having their choices limited to fish or vegetarian options.
Political Belly Rumblings
According to articles in the BBC, and the CS Monitor, Sarkozy government spokesman in Paris, Luc Chatel, opposes Halal Quicks for supporting “communitarianism” – a French term for identifying with a particular ethnic or religious group rather than egalitarian principles of the republic.
Certain right wing politicians in France, who shall remain nameless but none-the-less (in)famous have for once, joined members of the left in protesting the ban, saying, that like the burqa, it contravenes France’s secular principles of laicite, or separation of church and state.
Rene Vandierendonck, Roubaix’s socialist mayor even went as far as to file a court complaint and appeal to an anti-discrimination agency. He claims the Quick is discriminating against French Muslims and argues that its customers should be able to order what is on the menu at other Quick venues in France.
Quick France issued a statement claiming that the decision to go pork-less “is not religious.” The chain points out that the eight restaurants in question are not authentically Halal, as they also serve beer. The difference between the 8 and the other 356 is that bacon in a bacon burger is replaced with smoked turkey.
Kentucky Fried Chicken sells Halal chicken in France, but discreetly, with no advertising. In 2002, a Paris suburban branch of the supermarket giant Franprix, decided to go Halal and not sell pork or alcohol. The socialist mayor also protested and shut down the branch on grounds of unclear hygienic standards. A court promptly overturned his decision.