French police have banned a street party whose organizers planned to serve alcoholic cocktails and pork sausages in a heavily Muslim neighborhood of Paris, authorities said in a statement Tuesday.
Police said the party, called "Sausage and Booze," could have been viewed as a provocation in the Goutte-d'Or neighborhood of northern Paris, where many Muslims pray on the streets because there are not enough mosques. Alcohol and pork are forbidden by Islam and the party had been slated for just after Friday's main Muslim weekly prayers.
Organizers said they were holding the party to protest Islam's encroachment on traditional French values in the neighborhood. Muslim groups had announced a counterparty serving halal, or religiously approved, food.
Police banned both events.
"Because of the organization, location, day and timing chosen, as well as the counterparty plans, this event ... creates grave risks of public trouble," the police statement said. Police also said they met at length with organizers on Tuesday before announcing the ban.
'Flagrant call for hatred'
French rights group SOS Racisme praised the ban on the party, which they called it a "flagrant call for hatred."
The woman who organized the party on Facebook and gives her name as Sylvie Francois denies any ties to the extreme right. She told the free daily Metro newspaper on Tuesday that she had launched the party as a way to "express exasperation."
She complained that the "Islamization" of her working-class neighborhood was "more and more ostentatious," and complained that Muslims now block several streets during Friday prayers.
"It offends my concept of the republic's secularism, I feel increasingly excluded in the neighborhood," Francois said.
The Paris mayor said the party had been taken over by extreme-right groups seeking confrontation with Muslims.
The mayor's office noted that the Algerian team plays England at the World Cup Friday, which could create conditions for more violence at the Paris party because many French Muslims are of Algerian descent, and many youths take to the streets during Algerian soccer matches.
"Everything seems planned to create trouble, scandal or even violence," Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said in a statement.
France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population. Several Facebook groups sprouted late Tuesday to announce they planned "Sausage and Booze" cocktails in other French towns and in Belgium after the Paris protest was banned.
Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara — who is of Algerian descent — said that she doesn't ordinarily believe in banning street parties. "I'm for people gathering, drinking and having a laugh," she told RTL radio. But she said it was right to ban this party because it would have been "extremely dangerous" given its ties to the far right, "and all that implies about the hatred behind it."