French fast food chain Quick sparks halal burger appeal



Sign advertising Halal meat at a Quick restaurant in Roubaix, France, 17 February 2010A French council has lodged a complaint against a fast food chain that serves only meat that conforms with Islamic dietary laws at a local branch. The mayor of Roubaix, in northern France, said the halal menu constituted "discrimination" against non-Muslims.


The Roubaix branch is one of several restaurants at which the chain, Quick, took non-halal products and pork off the menu in November. The move has triggered the latest row over France's Muslim minority.


Several deputies from French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party have condemned the move, while Marine Le Pen, a vice-president of the far-right National Front, warned of "Islamisation". Their comments came ahead of regional elections in France next month, and against the backdrop of a debate over French national identity launched by Mr Sarkozy's government.


In Roubaix, Mayor Rene Vandierendonck, a socialist, called for a boycott of the Quick branch, and the town council has filed a complaint for discrimination with a regional court in Lille. "I'm not bothered by the fact that there is a halal menu," Mr Vandierendonck said. "But this is going too far because it is the only menu on offer and it has become discrimination."


Quick decided to take a bacon hamburger off the menu at eight of its 350 branches, replacing it with a halal version that comes with smoked turkey. It said the move was designed to test the "commercial interest and technical feasibility" of introducing halal menus.


The Quick manager responsible for the Roubaix branch said there had been a slight increase in business after the introduction of halal menus and that he had not received complaints from customers, AFP news agency reported.


France is home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, estimated at more than five million people. Debate has recently focussed on the Islamic veil, with a French parliamentary committee recommending a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils last month.  25/03/10