This week a French court ruled a halal supermarket in Paris had to close because it did not sell alcohol or pork.
Good Price Minimarket in the Colombes region of Paris (Hauts-de-Seine), a grocery store that serves around 5,000 residents, was ordered to close on 5 December when the justice ruled in favour of the HLM office and the local authorities.
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The local authorities in Colombes said the shop did not comply with the conditions of its lease, which stated the shop must serve as a general food store which it didn’t if it wasn’t selling alcohol or pork.
Many residents complained that the shop was not catering to the general public and failing to serve their needs.
The court of Nanterre ruled in favour or the shop closing, saying the products stocked were “restrictive and did not fit the broad concept of general goods”.
The decision is a victory for the mayor of Nanterre, Nicole Goueta, who attempted for two years to convince the store manager to stock a greater variety of products saying “it is a public facility”.
According to Francois Meyer, lawyer of the HLM Office said the case was “quite simple”.
Meyer said that “96 percent of all products were halal” and that there were few popular French brands, “no alcohol, no pork, very few dairy products”.
The mayor of Colombes explained her decision to sue Good Price as a result of France’s secularism laws, which encourage the absence of religious demonstrations in public life.
I must enforce the secularism in the neighbourhood.
The town council supported her statement by saying it was “a community grocery store which corresponds to religious practice”.
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France has a long history of trying to enforce secularism with mixed results. Ostentatious displays of religion are prohibited in all French public buildings and institutions including the wearing of veils, turbans, or headscarves.
However, the French still celebrate certain catholic public holidays and many view the law as discriminatory and divisive.
The owner of the store has said he plans to appeal the decision.
A lawyer working on behalf of Good Price said the store was criticised for not selling wine but “wine is not part of the general diet… it is a complement, so there are no obligations”.
The owner also said he did not sell alcohol for “security problems” or pork as a result of “losses in the deli department”.