Flag of France
Flag of FranceiStock

A French court has ruled that schools should provide an alternative to lunches containing pork for Muslim and Jewish students, JTA reports.

The decision was handed down on Monday, the news agency said, and came after a Muslim organization sued the local authority at Chalon-sur-Saône in Burgundy, about 180 miles from Paris in east-central France, challenging its decision in 2015 to stop providing a no-pork alternative in its school cafeterias.

The Muslim Legal Defense League had called the decision to stop providing a pork alternative “illegal, discriminatory and a violation of the freedom of conscience and religion.”

The judge said he made the ruling because, due to the lack of an alternative, many local Muslim children went without lunch, which is “not in keeping with the spirit of the international convention on the rights of children” and not “in the interests of the children”. He said religion was not a consideration.

In 2014, French National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said that no-pork options for Jewish and Muslim students will no longer be offered in school menus in the 11 towns where her far-right party won local elections.

At the time, she defended the decision by saying it was necessary to "save secularism" and adding that “there is no reason for religion to enter into the public sphere."

Le Pen lost the French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron earlier this year.

Despite her efforts to purge the National Front party of the anti-Semitism which became its trademark under the leadership of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party continues to court controversy over the issue.

Interim party leader Jean-Francois Jalkh was forced to step down recently after it was discovered that he expressed skepticism about Nazi gas chambers.

Le Pen, who made clear she “abhors” Holocaust deniers after Jalkh’s remarks were uncovered, herself drew criticism during the campaign when she said that today's France bore no responsibility for the roundup and deportation of French Jews during World War II.