Salzburg— The birthplace of Mozart and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997—has gained another distinction: It’s the fourth largest city in Austria that has banned pork in city-run kindergartens to “meet the needs of Muslim children.”
The city famous for its baroque architecture and where the movie “The Sound of Music” was filmed is just one of the places in Europe with growing Muslim student populations where pork consumption in schools has become a controversial issue.
The ban on pork in schools in Salzburg was not announced and has actually been in place for some time. It only became apparent when some parents of children attending kindergartens in the city noticed that school menus never include pork dishes.
The Salzburg mayor’s office defended the ban on pork, with a spokesman saying that it was for health reasons and, “among other things, the needs of Muslim children,” according to the local Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung.
Bregenz, another city in Austria, has also banned pork in city-run schools.
Muslims are forbidden by their faith from consuming pork and other pig products like bacon.
In a nationwide poll conducted on the subject by the television network ServusTV, 78 percent of Austrians rejected the ban, saying pork dishes should be included in school menus.
In Germany, conservative lawmakers have also called for mandatory pork meals in schools and government cafeterias. Last year, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary leader Daniel Günther said, “The protection of minorities – including for religious reasons – must not mean that the majority is overruled in their free decision by a false sense of consideration.”
In France, the issue was raised last month when the conservative mayor of the town of Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur, Michel Rotger, vowed to forbid schools from offering food menus that don’t include pork, saying this is in line with his campaign to promote secularism in schools, Heat Street reported.
Rotger said the move was also meant to save government money since it need not offer an alternative menu for Muslim schoolchildren, L’Express reported.
“We are putting an operation in place so the children eat everything and their diets are balanced. There is too much waste so we will teach them to eat meat, be it poultry or pork,” the mayor said.
The move has drawn criticism from human rights groups. Paul Garrigue, president of a coalition that includes the League of Human Rights and Amnesty International, slammed the mayor’s announcement as “anti-Muslim.”
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