OUR kebab founder and CEO Damien Schmitz poses for Reuters in his restaurant near the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
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In a country whose national identity is so closely connected to its cuisine, France's hard right has seized on a growing appetite for kebabs as proof of cultural "Islamization".The implicit message is clear: The now ubiquitous kebab, popular with the young and cash-strapped, is a sign that Middle Eastern culture has taken root in France, where not everyone is happy about the presence of 5 million Muslims.Introduced by Turkish immigrants to Paris in the 1990s, the doner kebab – which consists of meat carved off an upright rotating spit and served in a flatbread with salad and spicy sauce – quickly found favor with France's North African population, who had been raised on spiced halal meat in tagines and stews.Now, some 300 million kebabs at about 6 euros each are eaten in 10,200 outlets in France each year, putting the 1.5 billion euro ($1.9 billion) industry just behind burgers and pizza, according to Gira Conseil, a market research company.Campaigning for local elections last March, National Front candidates across the country criticized the rise of kebab shops, with one coining the phrase that France was undergoing a "kebabization".
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