France: Religious demands discussed in parliament
In a discussion in the French parliament on French identity, Carl Pincemin, human resources consultant for CAC 40 companies, described how employees get religious menus, refusing to have halal meat offerend next to 'normal' meat dishes, which are considered impure. Clearly they want separate dining halls and do not want to sit anymore next to people who are eating pork, said Jacques Myard UMP deputy. Others create the eqivalent of a religious union: they demand recognition of Muslim holidays, places of worship at work, and want the serving women to cover their arms.
These demands in the name of Islam, from the most simple to the most extravagant, put the management in an awkward situation. Anthropologist Dounia Bouzar says that some are afraid of being called Islamophobes if they refuse, and so they yield to intolerable practices. For example, accepting that male employees don't go through an assessment interview anymore with their female boss. While others, on the other hand, suppress all manifestations of faith, even if they don't disturb the smooth operation of the company.
André Gerin (PCF), president of the parliamentary commission on the full veil, says that hospitals are also having problems. The deputies visited the maternity ward in Lyon, where the staff feels abandoned. There are 4-5 incidents a week in the obstetrics department, says Gerin. In October a midwife called in to help during a difficult birth was beaten up by the husband, said a hospital official. CPR had to be administrated before they could go ahead with the birth. The entire department is traumatized and in more and more cases they need to find their way between religious requirements and violence from some people. Husbands insist that their wives be seen by female doctors. Many refuse anesthesia for fear it that a man would show up, says the staff. As they did in 2004, when chief gynecologists denounces these pressures to the Stasi commission (which later decided to ban the headscarf). Since then there's a charter saying that one can't choose a doctor in the public healthy system. But the staff are left to their own devices to manage those conflicts, says André Gérin.
The mayors of the suburbs are concerned about the increase of religious demands. After the pork-free meals in school, the requests for menus without meat or halal, there are demands for special hours reserved for women in swimming pools and gyms.
Source: Le Figaro (French), h/t NRP
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