French food site under fire over Ramadan recipes

23rd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

France's leading food website, Marmiton, has been bombarded with anti-Muslim vitriol after publishing recipes for Ramadan.

Some fans were apoplectic over the site's decision to wish a "Happy Ramadan to all" who decided to cook its lamb couscous or chicken tajine suggestions.

"Happy Ramadan to 'ALL'????????????????" wrote Facebook user Anne Piraux-Flabat, using a total of 16 question marks.

"I am not Muslim and I don't count on becoming one," she added, following up with six exclamation marks.

Another reader, Cyril Richard, felt the need to affirm his love for purely French cooking: "Long live cassoulet, sauerkraut, pork cutlets, ham and saucisson... and naked breasts on the beach."

As the debate raged -- with over 1,450 comments by Tuesday -- several Marmiton fans pointed out that this attitude ruled out the option of tapas, pizza and chow mein.

"Fascists even on their plate -- what a shame!" wrote Dav Du Bled.

But that did not deter Ellsworth Toohey, who felt that "the publicity around this custom... is more dangerous than the Islamic State".

France has Europe's largest Muslim population -- some 10 million -- but has seen mounting Islamophobia, particularly in the wake of jihadist attacks in Paris in January and the rise of the far-right National Front, which has won a quarter of votes in recent local and European polls.

A huge number of readers came to the defence of Marmiton, ridiculing the racists and expressing shock that Islamophobia had even spread to a cooking website.

When a couple of angry posters demanded to know why Marmiton was celebrating the start of Ramadan instead of a wartime speech by General Charles De Gaulle that fell at the same time, one fan asked: "And traditionally, what do we eat on that day? Cooked carrots? Maybe just some potatoes?

"The speech of De Gaulle seems a little less culinary than what we eat during Ramadan."

Many were impressed with the patient, jolly and calm response with which the Marmiton writers responded to even the most inflammatory posts.

But despite the upbeat responses, site co-founder Christophe Duhamel told AFP he had been "deeply saddened" by the angry debate.

"We are a cooking site. It's the only subject that interests us and it's the only subject we talk about," said Duhamel who has issued an open letter appealing for tolerance.

"For 16 years of our existence, we have taken all major festivals, religious or not, as opportunities to discover new recipes.

"Our religion is sharing, discovery, openness -- in short, everything that is integral to cuisine," he said.

The one upside was that the debate brought a lot of added attention to the site.

"Thank you to the racists," wrote Morena Guerra on Facebook. "Thanks to you, I now know about Marmiton. Happy Ramadan to all!"

er/jm/jz


© 2015 AFP

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