Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What's the Muslim alternative to "racist soup"?

Muslim "Couscous" Vs. "Racist Soup" in France
The delicious Moroccan couscous appealed to many French.
By Hadi Yahmid,
IOL Correspondent
PARIS, December 27, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – The Le Secours Islamique (Islamic Relief) group in France is planning to distribute plates of delicious Moroccan couscous (hard-wheat semolina) as Christmas cheer among the poor and displaced in France irrespective of their religion or ethnicity in response to what is known as "racist soup" served by an extreme-right group for Christians only.
“The ‘couscous of friendship’ campaign will reach out to all French, Muslims or non-Muslims, nationwide,” Wahid Abbasi, media officer of the Islamic Relief in France, told IslamOnline.net Tuesday, December 27.
He added French Muslims have volunteered to serve couscous at underground metro stations, parks, in front of mosques and churches.
“There is no room for religious backgrounds in our campaign,” Abbasi stressed.
Dominique Lescure, head of the small ultra-nationalist Soulidarieta (solidarity) group, distributes every Wednesday free hot soup containing pork – which Muslims and Jews do not eat -- for the poor in front of the main church in Nice, southeastern France.
When he launched his soup kitchen in early December under the motto “Ours before the Others,” Lescure said in a statement he wanted to help “our least fortunate blood brothers ... in this hour when the black tide of demographic submersion and free-market impoverisation is rising.”
“I don't see why I should not be able to put pork, which has always played a major role in my country's cuisine, into a traditional soup that I want to distribute, admittedly, to my compatriots and European homeless people,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
An official with the French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) charged in statements to IOL that Lescure’s campaign was targeting Muslims as he knew that Muslims do not eat pork.
“He wants to force poor Muslims to drink his soup,” he said.
A Nice official said he could do nothing about the controversial soup kitchen.
“Serving soup with pork is not a crime,” said deputy mayor Noel Ayraud.
Lescure’s “charity” was banned last year in Paris on the grounds that it was racist and selective.
A poor man drinks Lescure’s soup in Nice.
The soup kitchen, set up at the harbor of this Riviera town, draws about as many protesters as poor people, according to Reuters.
Protesters at the soup kitchen denounced the group as a bunch of racists.
“Our fathers are Muslims and they fought for France with honor and loyalty,” one Muslim woman shouted at Lescure while serving his controversial soup.
“This pork-based soup kitchen is pure discrimination, it's an in-your-face way of telling people who don't eat pork – you can stay in your cardboard boxes and starve,” said Teresa Mafeis, holding back tears of anger.
“After the holidays, we're going to set up our own soup kitchen and there will be shorba for everyone,” she said, using the Arabic word for soup.
The Muslim Soup for All organization embarked on its annual campaign for the 13th straight year in Ramadan this year.
The organization provides hot soup for poor Muslims and non-Muslims alike across France.
In 2003, Le Secours Islamique placed money boxes in shops and supermarkets to raise funds for the poor, drawing unprecedented Muslim and non-Muslim contributions.
The electrocution deaths of two teenagers of west and North African background hiding from police in an electrical sub-station in a poor neighborhood northeast of Paris in October cast a harsh light on racism in France.
The incident was taken as an excuse by hundreds of immigrants to vent their pent-up frustration at racial discrimination despite being born in France, a lack of educational and employment prospects and police harassment.