In Clichy-sous-Bois it's "Bacon Halal" instead of "Le Big Mac"
"I'd like a 'bacon halal'," this woman says at the counter. "Halal" means the meat has been prepared according to Muslim religious laws. That same "bacon halal" order can be heard countless times a day at "Beurger King Muslim" in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
The "Beur" in Beurger is a play on words. It refers to the big American fast food chain. It's also French slang that stands for "second generation North Africans living in France."
Due to the many immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, many kebab restaurants have opened up in France, especially in Paris. So what makes the new fast food places so appealing?
It's the combination of a colourful, friendly interior design, a play-corner for kids just like in the United States, and a menu based on Islamic dietary laws.
It's a tempting offer, especially for young Muslims.
"I think it's great that I can now eat a hamburger. I couldn't do that before," a teenage boy says.
His mother is also happy because she has a wide range of food to choose from.
Everything needs to be 'halal'
At regular fast food restaurants, Muslims are normally limited to eating fish filets, says Rachid Bekhti, manager at Beurger King Muslim.
"We inspect the meat very carefully, but we also examine the ingredients in the sauces. There can't be any animal fat in them. Everything has to be 'halal'; it's that simple," he says.
No alcohol is permitted in the beverages either, Bekhti explains. His sister says the restaurant could be a meeting place for young people, not just for Muslims. Everybody's welcome. But it's mainly immigrants from former French colonies who live in an area like Clichy-sous-Bois.
Many of them live in subsidized housing or are unemployed. That's a big challenge, says Hakim Badaoui, Bekhti's consultant.
"We have created 28 jobs here. That's an achievement. Now we just have to start making enough money so that we can pay our employees."
The entrepreneurs hope to one day open restaurants in other French cities. They could help give jobs to kids with no education. Besides, says Hakim Badaoui, he wants to give big fast food chains a run for their money.
Gertrud Sterzl/Louisa Schaefer
© DEUTSCHE WELLE/DW-WORLD.DE 2005
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