Rabat – After a Nanterre court ordered in early December the closure of a Halal grocery store accused by a local housing authority of “community trading” and non compliance of its lease, many of the store’s regular customers gathered on Saturday at the store to condemn the court’s decision, reported the French Newspaper Le Parisien.
The housing authority had claimed in court that the contract stipulates that the shop must act as a “general food store.”
“Where do we go if it closes? It’s convenient, we find what we need and it’s cheaper than elsewhere,” said Nadia, a protester who is living in the neighborhood for 40 years. “There are plenty of products that can not be found elsewhere, and there is something else [more] than halal. For alcohol, just go to the shops next door (…) If we must continue to demonstrate, we will do it,” she added.
Souleymane Yalcin, who owns the Good Price mini-market franchise in Colombes, categorically denied the accusations and the ruling that he was not catering to the demands of his customers in the area. Following the court’s ruling, he decided to appeal the expulsion on Monday.
“We do not close a store that serves the population,” Yalcine said.
The case dates back to August 2016, when the office of low-income housing rental (HLM) in Colombes, chaired by the mayor of the city, Nicole Goueta, initiated the lawsuit against the Good Price mini-market for breaching its lease. The landlord pointed out that it was impossible to find bottles of wine or pork on the shelves, even though the lease had been granted for a “general food business.”
The office then argued that the commercial space had been rented for “general food activity” and that the store was not serving all members of the local community if there was no alcohol or pork products available.
The Court of Nanterre, which ruled in favor of the HLM agency, said that a halal grocery store is not a “general food store” and thus doesn’t meet “the needs of all residents of the neighborhood.”
This decision is a victory for the mayor, who tried for two years to convince the store manager to diversify his business. From the point of view of the town hall, Good Price, while open, served as a “community grocery store, which corresponds to a religious practice.”
“It is a public facility, which depends on the municipal office of HLM, so it was a service given to the population. As a mayor and secular person, I must enforce secularism in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Goueta.
The grocery store’s owner argued that alcohol and pork are not essential goods for a supermarket and should not be taken into account. In addition to the termination of the lease and the eviction of the tenants, the manager will also have to pay EUR 4,000 to the lessor for legal costs.