By BI: Politicians with the conservative Swiss People’s Party believe school authorities in Basel have caved to religious minorities in their decision to take pork off the school lunch menu in the coming school year. Parents have condemned a school’s decision to ban all pork products from the menu so as not to offend Muslims.
The Local Pork sausages are as much a part of Swiss cuisine as fondue and chocolate – so much so that a decision to remove them from the lunch menus of four primary schools in the district of Binningen in Basel-Country has left some local politicians fuming.
“We are outraged. When we first hear [about the decision] we thought we weren’t reading it right,” Swiss People’s Party representative Susanna Keller said at a local council meeting on Monday.
Speaking at the meeting, she argued that sausages such as the Klöpfer – a boiled sausage similar to the cervelat – were part of Switzerland’s cultural heritage.
“Could it be that we are adapting to certain cultures, rather than the other way around,” Keller said, according to local daily the Basellandschaftliche Zeitung.
In a formal information request provided to the council, the Swiss People’s Party asked if the decision would lead to “more demands in future”, without specifying what such demands could be. (The demands would be for halal meat, already forced on school children in the UK)
But a spokesperson for the local council said the decision to remove pork from the menu came in response to a school survey which showed that around five percent of parents did not want pork on the menu. The reasons had not been investigated.
“That wouldn’t be standard practice. When someone tells you their child is vegetarian, you don’t ask why,” the spokesperson said. “If the caterer wants to serve up cervalat salad then he can. But he also has to offer an alternative,” the spokesperson said.
The Swiss People’s Party are now calling for an investigation into why some parents are requesting the removal of pork from the school lunch menu. They also want a cost analysis done, arguing that alternatives could come out more expensive.
But with the local council about to enter into summer recess, the party will have to wait until September, or after the school year begins, for an official response.
The row in Binningen echoes similar debates in France where mayors from three towns banned non-pork options in canteens , a move that sparked accusations of discrimination.
In response to the ban, one politician argued that French schools should go vegetarian.