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‘Eat pork or stay hungry’

France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering non-pork alternatives to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

France’s republic has a strict secular tradition enforceable by law, but faith-related demands have risen in recent years, especially from the country’s five-million-strong Muslim minority, the largest in Europe.

“We will not accept any religious demands in school menus,” Le Pen told RTL radio.

“There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that’s the law.”

Pork is forbidden under Jewish and Muslim dietary laws.

The mayor of Arveyres, Benoit Gheysens told AFP the move was being taken because of the cost of providing alternative meals, many of which went to waste.

“Often children who did not take the substitute dinner complained as well and left the pork. It distressed the staff to see how much food was wasted,” Gheysens said.

In the eastern town of Hayanges FN mayor Fabien Engelmann has also proposed a ‘Pork Fest’ to liven up the town centre, a plan he insists is not designed to offend Muslims but which will do little to alleviate high local unemployment.

The anti-immigrant National Front has consistently bemoaned the rising influence of Islam in French pubic life.

France has seen periodic controversies over schools that substitute beef or chicken for pork from menus to cater to Muslim children.

Some of the FN’s new mayors have complained there are too many halal shops in their towns.

The party won control of 11 town halls and a large district in the port city of Marseille in municipal elections on Sunday, more than double its record from the 1990s.

Le Pen hailed the victory as showing the party had finally established itself as France’s third political force behind ruling Socialists and mainstream conservatives, and predicts a strong showing in May’s European Parliament elections. MUSLIM VILLAGE

Media await Dewani at airport

Media camera crews were setting up their equipment in the arrivals hall at Cape Town International Airport before 7am on Tuesday, hours ahead of the anticipated arrival of honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani.

The millionaire businessman is expected to touch down on British Airways flight BA059 direct out of London’s Heathrow Airport. According to the electronic information board in the arrivals hall, the flight will land at 09.56am.

Dewani is set to be whisked from the airport to the Western Cape High Court where he is expected to appear before Judge President John Hlophe at 11.30am. The justice department on Monday said Dewani was being accompanied on the flight by a medical doctor, a nurse, and members of the SA Police Service.

When he appears in court, he is expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and defeating the ends of justice. Dewani claimed he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010.

The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. Dewani was released unharmed while his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead. Xolile Mngeni was convicted of the murder and jailed for life.

Prosecutors alleged Dewani hired him to kill his wife. Two other alleged accomplices are also already serving jail terms in connection with the crimes. Dewani has denied any part in the murder. SAPA

Doccie reveals World Cup anger Featured

Brazilian protestors burn a symbol of public transport:
Yazeed Kamaldien

As soccer fans around the world eagerly await the start of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, a spate of riots continue to overshadow the show-piece football event. Since the 2013 Confederations Cup, every day Brazilians have protested against a host of issues, ranging from corruption in government, high public transportation fees, a high cost of living, as well as police brutality. Many are angered by the country’s use of state funds to host the sporting event, while parts of the country still live in extreme poverty.

In a 33-minute film Imagina na Copa (Imagine the Cup), South African storyteller, journalist and photographer Yazeed Kamaldien explores the voices for and against the tournament.

Speaking to VOC Drivetime, Kamaldien said the documentary would featured people from across the spectrum, from protesters against the hosting of the World Cup, to the deputy mayor of Sao Paulo, as well as members of the country’s Fifa organising committee.

The documentary takes its title from a popular phrase that Brazilians quote each time they reflect on the social challenges in relation to the Soccer World Cup. When faced with yet another local corruption case or services that don’t run smoothly, they exclaim, “Imagine during the World Cup!”

“The anger and energy at protests and fearless opposition to government evictions cannot be ignored. Anyone who is interested in the Soccer World Cup needs to hear these voices. Brazilians want the rest of us to know that it’s not all soccer, samba and supermodels but a very challenging reality,” says Kamaldien.

“I’ve even been into the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, where people alleged that the government is evicting them, because they want to do a clean up campaign ahead of the World Cup and the Olympic Fames planned in 2016,” he explained.

A favela is the term for a slum in Brazil, most often within urban areas. Kamaldien says many Brazilians opted to stay in the favelas as it was on the doorstep of the city and closer to work opportunities. He noted he had spoken to the housing secretary in Rio, who suggested the aim was not to evict people, but rather to build new houses for people.

“So the access that I then had as a result of that was to go and look at these new housing complexes. One of the persons that I interviewed who lives there now, said that although they have a house, it is very far from work opportunities,” he said.

He compared the situation to South Africa, where he claimed there was a tendency to “shove the poor as far away as possible from those who have money”.

According to Kamaldien, billions of dollars were being spent on building stadiums, infrastructure, and roads, instead of using the money to help alleviate poverty.

He said he was motivated to do the documentary after witnessing some of the protests whilst reporting in Brazil. He compared much of what he had seen to the issues faced in South Africa.

“While I was recording some of the protests, the violence that came out, and the anger that I witnessed, made me realise this is a film. This is something that South Africans need to see, especially since we had the World Cup. I know the narrative so well, and I the whole thing about the inequalities in our society, and what businesses, corporations and corrupt governments can do to stifle the development of a people,” he said.

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