COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish city has ordered pork to be mandatory on municipal menus, including for schools and daycare centers, with politicians insisting the move is necessary for preserving the country's food traditions and is not an attack on Muslims.
Frank Noergaard, a member of the council in Randers that narrowly approved the decision earlier this week, says it was made to ensure that pork remains "a central part of Denmark's food culture."
Denmark is a major pork producer and it is the most popular meat, but it is forbidden to Muslims and Jews. Most of the asylum-seekers who have arrived in the country in the past months are Muslim.
Noergaard, a member of the anti-immigration, populist Danish People's Party that proposed the council motion, said Thursday that it wasn't meant as a "harassment of Muslims," but added that he had received "several complaints about too many concessions" being made to Muslims in the small, predominantly Lutheran country.
"The signal we want to send here is that if you're a Muslim and you plan to come to Randers, don't expect you can impose eating habits on others. Pork here is on an equal footing with other food," Noergaard told The Associated Press. He said that halal meat, vegetarian dishes and diets for diabetics would still be available.
In 2013, then-Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt lashed out at some nurseries after they started serving halal-butchered meat instead of pork because Muslim children had refused to eat it.
Monday's vote in Randers, 210 kilometers (130 miles) northwest of Copenhagen, follows last week's government announcement to further tighten immigration by forcing asylum-seekers to hand over valuables to help cover their housing and food costs while their cases are being processed. Last year, some 20,000 people applied for asylum in the nation of 5.6 million.