Good news for French Muslims who have just heard the worst news of their lives; French prisons will now be required to serve halal meals.
A French court has officially ordered a prison in southeastern France to begin providing halal meals to Muslim inmates. In a landmark legal ruling, especially considering France's notorious secular traditions, the court ordered Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison to make halal meat available citing French laws which guarantee "free exercise of religion." This marks the first time a French legal body has ruled that a prison must provide specific food to accommodate detainees' religious beliefs.
When a Muslim inmate at the prison requested that halal options be provided, the warden denied his request thus prompting the inmate to appeal to the administrative tribunal. The court eventually ruled in favour of the inmate and ordered that the prison must provide halal meat options, a ruling, which according to the lawyer representing the inmate, will likely be applied to “all prisons that do not already provide halal meat to Muslim detainees." The French government had argued that the prison was doing more than enough to respect Muslims' religious practices by making sure prisoners had the options of vegetarian meals, but the court ruled that any refusal to supply full halal meals, meat included, would be a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which ensures freedom of religion. The court backed its ruling saying that providing halal meals would not present any "particular technical difficulty" or come with any extra cost to the prison.
France has had a longstanding controversy with regards to accommodating Muslims in general, despite the fact that the country has Western Europe's largest Muslim minority. So moral of the story is, if you ever get sentenced to prison time in France, fear not, you'll have halal meals made available to you!