DCSIMG

Far-right 'charity' that leaves Muslims hungry

FAR-right groups in France are distributing ham sandwiches and pork soup to homeless people in an attempt to discriminate against Muslims and Jews, forbidden to eat pork products.

Food hand-outs, which have already taken place in Paris, Nice and Nantes, and in Brussels and Charleroi in Belgium, have now spread to the eastern French city of Strasboug.

At the weekend, Strasbourg's prefect banned the extreme right association Solidarit Alsacienne from distributing its soupe au cochon (pig soup) to poor and homeless people in the city centre.

On Saturday, police intervened to close the soup kitchen after Solidarit Alsacienne defied the ban and began distributing food in one of Strasbourg's main squares.

Chantal Spieler, Solidarit Alsacienne's president, was escorted to police headquarters and given a formal warning before being joined by her husband, Robert Spieler, a former MP for Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front party.

Mr Spieler denounced "a totalitarian regime" where soon "they'll be banning salami".

He said: "Pork is a European symbol, whether we like it or not. The day when there are laws forbidding the distribution of pork in Alsace I believe there will be a lot of us who will leave France and take refuge in a country where there is still a certain culinary freedom." His wife said she would appeal against the prefect's decision.

"Pork is part of our culinary culture and we are offering the soup to everyone, so there is nothing discriminatory about it," she said.

However, few accept Solidarit Alsacienne's protests that it is a victim of the infringement of civil liberties. The association is close to Le Bloc Identitaire, an extreme-right umbrella group led by Fabrice Robert, a former leader of Unit Radicale, a neo-Nazi cell which broke up in 2002 after one its members attempted to assassinate the president, Jacques Chirac.

Soulidarieta, an extreme-right group based in Nice, which is also a Bloc Identitaire member, provoked outrage over Christmas when it began distributing soup made with pork once a week to homeless and poor people in the south-eastern city's port area.

Its operation drew as many protesters as homeless people. They accused the group of blatant discrimination by offering pork soup only, deliberately to exclude poor Muslims.

With protesters denouncing the practice as racist, the local town hall and the prefect's office in Nice claimed they were powerless to intervene as the group had done nothing illegal.

The group's head, Dominique Lescure, said pork was a traditional part of French cuisine. He did admit, however, wanting to serve the soup to his "compatriots and European homeless people".

The philosophy behind Soulidarieta, which means solidarity in the local dialect, is made clear in the association's literature, in which it claims: "Our people face being submerged by a rising black demographic tide," and announces "the launch of a voluntary social and political action in favour of our most deprived blood brothers".

The group's slogans call for "solidarity with our European brothers", and "Our own kind first before others".

Pierre Levy of the Council Representing Jewish Institutions in France, who attended the first distribution of pork soup last month, denounced Bloc Identitaire's operations as "using human misery to establish ethnic separation".

 
 
 

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