PARIS — French Prime Minister Francois Fillon advised Muslims and Jews to forego ritual slaughter practices he deems un-modern, sparking controversy.
“I think religions should think about maintaining traditions that no longer have much in common with the state of science and technology, health issues today,” Fillon said Monday on French Europe 1 radio, in reference to halal and kosher practices.
“We’re in a modern country. There are traditions that are ancestral traditions that no longer correspond to much, whereas they corresponded in the past to problems of hygiene,” he said, speaking his “personal” opinion.
The French Jewish community reacted with outrage.
“Shocked,” said Richard Prasquier, the president of the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF. “Fillon’s declaration is stupefying.”
Fillon’s remarks were in reference to a recent controversy initiated by the far-right National Front party leader, Marine Le Pen, who claimed that Parisians were unknowingly being supplied with only halal meat. That claim was later denied, but it led to another contested proposal by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on March 3 that animals slaughtered according to halal and kosher tradition be clearly labeled.