Netherlands: School backs down from halal-only Christmas meal

| 14/12/2009 | Reply

An elementary Catholic school in Weert (Netherlands) decided to serve
just halal food this year for its Christmas meal.  The school has about
400 students and about ten Muslim students.  However, after some
parents complained, the school backed down.

The Christmas meal
is organized every year together with the parents association. 
According to principal Margo Janssen they decided for practical
considerations to serve halal for everybody.  In previous years they
took the Muslims into account and served them separate halal dishes,
but this wouldn’t be necessary if everybody is served halal.  Janssen
points out that this is also done in hospitals and prisons.  This year
they thought it would be simpler and cheaper to serve everybody halal.

According
to Janssen this also follows Christian thought, which says you should
take others into account.  He says that there’s no real reason to make
a fuss about it.  “It’s the spirit of the times.  We have no intention
at all to give a signal with this.  It’s still a Christmas meal with a
Christian background.”  They would have a nativity scene and a candle
march.  It all happened with the best of intentions, he says.

Jean
Paul van der Donk, chairman of the parents association, says they’ve
received eight complaints from angry parents.  But, he says, those
parents should understand that they didn’t choose halal food for
religious reasons, but purely for practical reasons.  Catholics aren’t
forbidden to eat halal meat, while the opposite is the case for Muslims.

After
getting complaints from parents the management decided to review the
issue.  The school has since changed its mind and decided to offer
every student a choice of what to eat.  “We’ve been naive as a school,”
the school’s site says.  They hope to now go back to having a festive
Christmas meal, and hope the school’s name won’t be damaged by one not
so well thought out decision.

Category: EU, Europe

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