In his refrigerated room, clearly bloodless carcasses of calves and lamb hanging from hooks are stamped to show they have been slaughtered ritually.
Unger, of the butchers' confederation, said no figures for the number of Muslim butchers are available because they aren't organized.
The Agriculture Ministry has said that 14 percent of the total tonnage of animals killed in France are slaughtered ritually.
"We're here because there's a demand," Nahim said, stressing that non-Muslims are loyal customers, too.
Muslim butchers contend their meat is tastier with less risk of contamination because there can be no blood toxins. They also point out their lower prices.
Ait-Ben Ali says that at his shop, simply called the Muslim Butcher Shop, a cote de boeuf sells for about €16 per kilogram (about $9.50 a pound), compared to up to €34 ($44.59) per kilogram (around $20 a pound) at a traditional French butcher.
By becoming small entrepreneurs, like butchers, Muslims are able to avoid the discrimination many face in job searches, said Patrick Simon, a sociologist with the National Institute for Demographic Studies.
"It's a solution to avoid discrimination in the job market and fulfills an important function," he said. As butchers, they are dependent on no one and work with other Muslims.
"Muslims are increasingly becoming entrepreneurs," Simon said, noting their corner on the market of small neighborhood grocery stores in big French cities, bought up in the 1950s and 1960s. If you live in Paris and you need last-minute milk, eggs or a bottle of wine, you "go to the Arabs," an expression that has entered the French vernacular.
Will halal butchers make equal inroads?
That's the question that has roused presidential candidates on the right. In French elections it is standard procedure for the mainstream right to ogle far-right voters, often allowing the far-right to set the tone.
Le Pen, who claims that French civilization is under the sway of a conquering Islam, lashed out at what she said was the omnipresence of halal meat in the Paris region, and the cruelty of ritual slaughter.
Fillon, the prime minister, suggested that French Jews and Muslims reflect on "ancestral traditions" which "don't have much to do with the state of science, technology and health issues today." His remarks drew such shock that he ended up apologizing personally to leaders of both religions in France.
Sarkozy, after his remarks caused concern, ultimately asked that butcher products be labeled halal or kosher on a voluntary instead of mandatory basis. He didn't say there was anything wrong with halal meat, just that it should be clearly labeled.
For butcher Ait-Ben Ali, there is an easier solution: "They shouldn't be mixing politics and meat. They should find the real problems."
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