Discrimination complaint lodged against French municipality
A community group has lodged a formal complaint against a municipal council in a Paris suburb after it sacked four summer camp instructors for fasting during Ramadan. The coordinator of the group told RFI the complaint will help protect Muslim employees in France
The complaint was logded with the mayor of Gennevilliers on Saturday by the organization, Front des Banlieues Independant Association, that works to alleviate poverty.
The organization's president Hassan Ben M'Barek said he lodged the complaint as the town's reason for the dismissal, children's safety, "masks discrimination against a Muslim practice".
France introduced a law in September 2010 banning people from covering their face. Critics of the law say it targets Muslim women who wear burqas.
"There has been an increase in Islamaphobia here in France in recent years, which started with the law that bans Muslim women wearing burqas," Ben M'Barek told RFI.
The four summer camp employees were dismissed on July 20, the first day of Ramadan, after an inspector visited the camp and told the staff they were endangering the children's safety by not eating or drinking during daylight hours.
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.
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.
Currently there is no law banning Muslim employees in France from fasting during Ramadam. Ben M'Barek says he is concerned that sacking of the four summer camp workers may prompt some companies to avoid hiring Muslims.
"We are lodging this complaint to send a message throughout society that Muslims have the right to fast during Ramadam in France," Ben M'Barek told RFI.