Agencies | 05 August 2016
A halal supermarket in a Paris suburb has been told by local authorities it must start selling alcohol and pork or else it will be shut down.
Good Price discount mini-market in Colombes has been told by the local housing authority, from which it rents its premises, that it has not followed the conditions on the lease that stipulate that the shop must act as a "general food store."
The authority argues that all members of the local community are not being served properly if there are no alcohol or pork products in the Good Price store, which is run as a franchise and which last year replaced another small supermarket.
“The mayor of Colombes, Nicole Goueta, went there herself and asked the owner to diversify the range of products by adding alcohol and non-halal meats,” the mayor’s chief of staff, Jérôme Besnard, told The Telegraph.
He said locals, particularly older residents, had complained that they could no longer get the full range of products at Good Price, which replaced a regular supermarket, and had to travel some distance now to do their shopping.
“We want a social mix. We don’t want any area that is only Muslim or any area where there are no Muslims,” Mr Besnard said, adding that the town’s reaction would have been the same had a kosher shop opened on that spot.
The Colombes housing authority argues that the store breaches French republican principles by prioritising a certain group within society rather than catering to all categories.
It has taken legal action to bring an end to the lease which would normally run until 2019. The case goes to court in October.
Soulemane Yalcin, who runs the shop under franchise, said he was merely catering to the demands of his customers in this area of large public housing estates.
“It’s business,” said Mr Yalcin.
“I look around me and I target what I see. The lease states ‘general food store and related activities’ - but it all depends on how you interpret ‘related activities’,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
He has hired a lawyer to fight the housing authority’s bid to get him evicted.
The row in Colombes came as another town - this time in the south of France - decided to take action to stop another perceived breach of republican principles.
The mayor of Pennes-Mirabeau, near Marseille, is seeking to ban an event at a water park that is open only to burkini-clad women and children.
The event organised by a local community group said the need for modest swimwear was because there would be male lifeguards on duty at the Speedwater Park venue.
Burkinis are banned at municipal pools in France, as are women-only events, but private venues are in theory allowed to host them.
But the mayor of Pennes-Mirabeau said he was outraged by this “provocation” and that he would use a bylaw to ban it on the grounds that it is likely to cause public disorder.