A Danish city has ordered pork to be mandatory on municipal menus, including for schools and daycare centres, with politicians insisting that the move is necessary to preserve the country’s food traditions and is not an attack on Muslims.
Frank Noergaard, a member of the council in Randers that narrowly approved the decision earlier this week, said on Thursday that it was made to ensure that pork remains “a central part of Denmark’s food culture”.
Pork is Denmark’s most popular meat but it is forbidden to Muslims and Jews. The country, which is a major pork producer, took in a record 20,000 refugees last year, most of whom are Muslim.
Noergaard, a member of the anti-immigration, populist Danish People’s Party (DF) which proposed the council motion, said the measure was not meant as a “harassment of Muslims”.
The signal we want to send here is that if you're a Muslim and you plan to come to Randers, don't expect you can impose eating habits on others.
He added, however, that he had received “several complaints about too many concessions” being made to Muslims in the country.
“The signal we want to send here is that if you’re a Muslim and you plan to come to Randers, don’t expect you can impose eating habits on others. Pork here is on an equal footing with other food,” Noergaard told the AP news agency.
He said that halal meat, vegetarian dishes and diets for diabetics would still be available.
In 2013, the Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt lashed out at some nurseries after they started serving halal-butchered meat instead of pork because Muslim children had refused to eat it.
The decision in Randers, 210km northwest of Copenhagen, follows last week’s government announcement to further tighten its immigration policy.
Measures included precluding asylum-seekers from reuniting with their family members for years, and forcing them to hand over valuables to help cover housing and food costs while their cases were being processed.
Amnesty International on Thursday urged Denmark’s parliament to reject proposed changes to the country’s laws on refugees, saying that they would “have a devastating impact on vulnerable people” and may violate international human rights laws.
Moving refugees outside cities
Led by the DF, the Danish parliament this week passed a resolution that will force the government to come up with a proposal by March to build state-backed “villages” to replace housing in cities and towns.
Some tent camps have already been set up for single male refugees to give families priority in cities.
The refugee debate is hot in Denmark, with a poll showing that 70 percent of voters see it as the most important issue on the political agenda, according to the daily paper Berlingske.
A separate poll showed 37 percent disagreed with giving more residence permits to refugees, compared with about 20 percent in September.