Tensions between European nations and refugees, mostly from Syria, seeking asylum in these countries, have been high in recent months as migrants have struggled to adapt to new cultural norms — especially in the wake of what appears to have been a mass sexual assault by foreign men that took place on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, though similar attacks were also reported in other cities.
The assailants, some of whom were refugees, appeared to work with some synchronicity to subdue and assault groups of young women, and across Europe, countries have responded with no small amount of anti-Islamic sentiment.
Now, yet another cultural clash is poised to widen the gap even further between Europeans and refugees — school lunch. Specifically, the predominately Muslim refugees that wound up in Denmark are fighting with Danish schools over the serving of pork in lunches served in schools and daycare centers.
Both Islam and Judaism forbid the consumption of pork, while Denmark, which is historically Christian and culturally secular, considers pork dishes an important part of its culture.
One town, Randers, even voted to require schools to include pork on their lunch menus as a matter of preserving Danish food culture. Critics, however, have accused anti-Muslim Danes of creating “a problem that did not exist for the purpose of stigmatizing Muslims.”
Some towns across Europe with conservative leadership have even attempted to remove non-pork options from school cafeterias, according to the New York Times.
“Randers has always been at the forefront when it comes to integration,” Fatma Cetinkaya, a member of the Social Democrats on the Randers Town Council, told Politiken. “We don’t have problems with crime and a lot of other things, so it’s incomprehensible that pork has been made into a problem.”