French minister blasts 'hateful' pork-and-wine party
A French minister of Algerian descent on Tuesday condemned plans for a "pork sausage and wine" party in a multi-ethnic Paris district, calling them "hateful, racist and xenophobic."
The event scheduled for Friday in a northern Paris area has been organised by a local resident who said she wanted to make a statement against the "Islamisation" of her neighbourhood.
The junior minister for urban affairs, Fadela Amara, told reporters that that while she "enjoys a party," she found this one "scandalous."
"I firmly condemn this type of initiative that is not joyful, but hateful, racist and xenophobic," she told reporters in the town of Mantes-La-Jolie outside Paris.
Amara, a former activist in the immigrant-heavy Paris suburbs before she joined President Nicolas Sarkozy's government in 2007, said the drinks party was supported "by groups linked to the far right."
Paris police were to meet with the event's organisers on Tuesday to consider their official request for permission to hold the event, which has been announced on the social networking site Facebook.
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe voiced concern that the drinks party, timed to coincide with the beginning of Friday prayers at the local mosque and just before the England-Algeria World Cub match, could turn violent.
"Everything has been planned in such a way that there could be some excesses, things could get out of control and there could even be violence," said Delanoe.
Meanwhile, a rival group has set up a "halal and mint tea" party in response to the Friday event and the head of the main Paris mosque located in another neighbourhood has invited the faithful to attend prayers there to avoid clashes.
Pierre Cassen, one of the organisers of the pork-and-wine party, defended the event, saying he was "resisting the Islamic-fascist offensive in France."
The tensions come after a government-sponsored debate on national identity held earlier this year revealed anxieties about the integration of France's five to six million Muslims.
© 2010 AFP