The plan to hold a pork-and-wine bash in Goutte d’Or, where the overcrowded mosque spills into the streets on Fridays, was considered provocative enough to cause a riot. Islam forbids the consumption of pork and alcoholic beverages.
But it is also the latest and most public example of France’s current identity and culture wars aimed mainly at Muslims. In the past year, a controversial “national identity” debate run by the ruling party has gone along with a nearly completed federal ban in public places of the full-length veil or burqa worn by Muslim women. France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, some 4 million, most of whom are of North African origin.
The pork bash and protest is also seen as an example of Facebook’s power to quickly mobilize large crowds. The right-wing pork party is a further morphing here of a new fad called “apéro géant” – huge binge-drinking parties organized overnight on Facebook. Apéro is short for apéritif, and geant means giant.
French authorities have lately reined in apéro géant after a man fell off a bridge and was killed; an apéro géant aiming at 10,000 drinkers beneath the Eiffel Tower two weeks ago was also banned.
Some conservative media have played the pork party ban as an abridgment of free speech.
Marine Le Pen, deputy leader of the right-wing National Front (FN) party, calls the ban a “capitulation” by authorities to Muslims.
That is hardly the main reading in France.