Complaint lodged over French camp staff fired for fasting
A community group lodged a formal complaint Saturday against a Paris suburb after it sacked four summer camp instructors for fasting during Ramadan.
The four had been employed temporarily by the town of Gennevilliers to help run a summer holiday sports camp in southwestern France but were dismissed on July 20, the first day of Ramadan.
An inspector who visited the camp told the staff they were endangering children's safety by not eating or drinking between dawn and dusk.
An aide to the mayor said the decision was influenced by an episode three years ago when a fasting camp worker was taken ill while driving, leading to an accident which seriously injured a child.
The town council later backtracked on its decision to fire the workers, but the damage was done, with Muslim leaders denouncing the move.
Hassan Ben M'Barek, the president of the Front des banlieues independant association said he lodged the complaint as the town's reason for the dismissal, children's safety, "masks discrimination against a Muslim practice".
Mayor Jacques Bourgoin said in response Gennevilliers had long hired members of the Muslim community.
The town decided Friday to set up a permanent committee to address issues Muslims may have with the community, he added.
One of the dismissed workers said he thought every person should be able to tell for himself whether he can handle fasting.
"I hope this debate will take place, with people who can move things forward," said the worker who asked to be identified only by his first name, Samir.
© 2012 AFP