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Defiled food

Now consider. In practice a devout Muslim can’t eat meat which has been slaughtered by a non Muslim. In order to be halal, in addition to method of slaughter and bleeding the animal out, the name of Allah must be pronounced over the animal as it is killed.

So, the animal is effectively sacrificed to the Islamic god, a god which no one other than a Muslim believes in. For convenience, more and more food supplied in our supermarkets is halal, some marked as such in easily missed notations on the packaging. Most of us, these days, may find ourselves eating halal without even knowing it.

Does it matter?

What’s going to happen when the first non Muslim complains, on the basis that they can’t eat meat which has been defiled by sacrifice to a false god?

I suspect the screams of “Raacciiisst” will be deafening.

Apparently, contrary to common belief, the slaughterman need not be Muslim, any Person of the Book can do it, provided Allah’s name is invoked, but what Jew or Christian is going to pray to Allah dozens of times a day? In practice only Muslims slaughter halal, so what progressive can argue against a boycott of specific slaughterhouses on the basis of religious discrimination in their hiring practices?

Will this be racist as well?

To me, halal meat is just meat. The concept of it being ritually defiled is meaningless; muttering a few words over the poor dying beast is nothing to me. However, I don’t eat halal because in order to gain certification the producer must pay a fee to an Islamic certification authority. A portion of that fee is used to proselytise, even to engage in Jihad, and I will not contribute to the promotion of a belief system which I find appalling. In fact, selling me halal without making its status clear is an abuse of my freedom of speech.

Halal is haram.

24 Comments

  1. Tim Newman says:

    I suspect that there is an almighty scam going on whereby more and more meat is marked as halal which is in fact no such thing. We can’t even manage to keep horse out of the burgers, exactly who is ensuring the right chap is wailing the right incantations when slaughtering the beasts?

  2. john malpas says:

    Is halal slaughter humane?

  3. Barman says:

    *Is halal slaughter humane?*

    That is the question that I have about it all…

    I thought we had developed the most humane method of slaughtering our food over many years which involves stunning the animal first?

    Halal meat cannot be stunned as the animal will not be able to hear the prayer…

    So surely allowing Halal slaughter means a step backwards to a method which would have previously been considered inhumane?

  4. john in cheshire says:

    John Malpas, Barman, quite so. My problem is how to establish if the meat one is consuming has been slaughtered by the barbaric muslim method or not. I can’t find the information in the supermarkets I use and it becomes tedious to be forever asking the question; because just because they say it is not on one occasion doesn’t mean that’s true for all time. I’m surprised there isn’t a national movement to restrict if not ban muslim slaughter methods.

  5. PJH says:

    Just a small point, but “Muslim” isn’t a race, therefore discriminating against it cannot possibly be racism…

  6. CountingCats says:

    PJH,

    Well, yeah, we tend to be aware of this, but that is pretty much the standard smear don cha kno?

  7. Peter says:

    In lefty Marxist world race is just as much about culture and power relationships than skin colour. If you dislike others cultures and you are from the dominant culture you are now racist. I always thought culture was another term for behaviour. So if you disapprove of others behaviour you can be racist too. How very post-modern.

  8. George Speller says:

    Can o’ worms (halal of course).

  9. APL says:

    What if I want halal bacon?

  10. Mr Ed says:

    In the UK, discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief is unlawful, except with limited confines. To require that a slaughterperson be a ‘Person of the Book’ is to impose a religious qualification for a position that requires justification. So, if a slaughterhouse wishes to be Halal, it must discriminate which it wold have to justify on the basis of a belief, rather than reality, cf a minimum eyesight requirement for pilots, which is justifiable discrimination on the frounds of disability against partially-sighted otherwise qualified pilots. So Halal meat, if it requires a person of the book, is rooted in practices which may be unlawful and are discriminatory. The libertarian question for those opposed to laws on discrimination and Halal meat is surely ‘Ought one beat an opponent with such a stick?’

    Suffice to say I only buy meat from Haram sources and only free range pork and eggs, an issue about which I am fanatically intolerant of non-free range, to the point of not buying or knowingly eating anything of such provenance.

  11. RAB says:

    I love animals, they’re very tasty, and some of them are good friends of mine. We just got back from France with the bonkers dog. It’s the animal cruelty that I hate, and the hypocrytical double standards.

    I have mentioned this once or thrice. My dad was a master butcher with his own abbatoir back in the fifties and early sixties. Aged five or so I thought nothing about watching my dad and his employees killing cattle, with a Beano in one hand and a bottle of pop in the other. It was just what my dad did for a living, to me.

    First the cow was stunned electrically, then shot through the head with a humane killer, great big fat Uzi like thing that punctured a steel rod into the skull. They went down like a sack of wet concrete… dead in an instant. Then the men set to work. Out came the stomachs, two (pretty wiffy) rivers of blood running down the guttering etc etc. Not a pretty sight, but the animal didn’t suffer more than it had to.

    Now and again dad had a Rabbi in to kill for Kosher meat. There were practically no Muslims in the country in those days, but the method is the same for both religions… Prayers are said whilst a single knife-cut to the animals throat is made, and then the animal is then left to bleed to death.

    Well the Rabbi was a man of the cloth, not an expert in wielding knives, so most of the time he made a piss poor job of it and the animal would have taken hours to die in agony.

    This used to turn my dad up. He may have been a butcher but he wouldn’t inflict needless cruelty on an animal. So he used to whip the Rabbi off to a back room and give him a whiskey while his men finished the poor beast off quickly. So how Kosher Kosher meat was back in Caerphilly in the fifties is anyone’s guess, but at least it had had the prayers said over it.

    Now I don’t give a damn if you want to pray over your dinner, lots of people do, but if you want to kill it inhumanely at the same time, then you can fuck off and be a vegetarian. That is the rule of a civilised society, and why our slaughtering laws were introduced in the first place. But it is now one rule for the Haram and another for the … it aint cruelty, it’s my kultcha crew, who we must never offend or they cut up a bit rough straight away, and we wouldn’t want that would we?

  12. Julie near Chicago says:

    That’s interesting, RAB. Of course the issue has been raised, and fought over endlessly, as to whether kosher slaughter is as bad as “halal” slaughter. (I don’t know what the proper adjective is.)

    It is, I believe, a tenet of Judaism that the animal should be slaughtered quickly, cleanly, and as painlessly as possible. The Jews presumably insisted on kosher slaughter as the best means to attain that end. But people who have investigated stun-and-kill vs. kosher slaughter disagree as to which is preferable.

    I thought that kosher butchers were supposed to be specifically trained–sharp knives, one swift clean deep cut. From what you say I guess that isn’t so. :>(

  13. Mr Ed says:

    Given that the Old Testament is, as far as I recall and have read it, silent on the ethics of electrical stunning for obvious reasons, is there any school of Judaism that has ‘modernised’ to accept the more humane methods of slaughter available in these days of electric potential? Just curious, as for Islam, they very much do things by the book, it seems.

    I have been in anatomy labs when rats were slaughtered, and it was grim. ‘Squeak, thump!’.

  14. John Galt says:

    I think I’ll stick to my humanely killed bacon then, what beef I do eat tends to be imported from Ireland, Argentina or Australia depending where I lay my head so uncluttered with all this bogus, politically correct “respect” for the religion of peace.

    At home in Malaysia the consumption of beef is discouraged in the mainly Buddhist Chinese community, taboo for the Indian community and too expensive / foreign for the poorer majority population of ethnic Malays.

    Net effect is that quality beef in Malaysia is imported from Australia almost exclusively for the expat community through prestige outlets such as Cold Storage or Tesco’s “Tidak Halal” (Non-halal) section, essentially a store-within-a-store run by only Chinese staff members to cater to non-muslims at inflated prices.

    Tidak halal: The other white meat

    So in Muslim Malaysia I get choice and in nominally christian UK, I’m racist for asking for choice. What kind of bollocks is this?

  15. CountingCats says:

    JG, In the posting you point to he talks about daun pandan and palm sugar. The effect of these in cooking has to be tasted to be believed, although I suspect you are well aware of this. In London I used to keep a supply of daun pandan frozen the fridge, and palm sugar in a bottle in the cupboard. They were surprisingly easy to get ahold of.

  16. wh00ps says:

    I may be wrong here, but I’m sure that I read somewhere that a dietary restriction for Sikhs was they are forbidden to eat meat killed in the Islamic fashion. If true, I wonder where they find their food these days.

  17. Bernard from Bucks says:

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/animals/welfare/slaughter/
    Halal Slaughter
    …..
    Suppliers and consumers of halal meat are reminded that slaughter by the Islamic method can only be done:
    •by a licensed Muslim slaughterman, and
    •in a licensed abattoir or licensed poultry slaughterhouse which is under official veterinary supervision (or in other officially regulated poultry slaughterhouses)
    Slaughter is not permitted in any other place, even for personal consumption.
    Only cattle, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, hens, guinea-fowl, ducks, geese and quail may be slaughtered using the Islamic method.
    …..
    Hope this helps?
    And by the way, the exception allowing slaughter without stunning clearly states that the meat is to be solely for consumption by the relevant groups. It is illegal to knowingly slaughter animals (without stunning) for consumption by others (non Jewish or Muslim). This is completely ignored at the moment as far more animals are being ritually slaughtered than there are ‘religous persons’ in this country to consume them.
    It’s obviously difficult to prove this and bring a conviction.
    …..
    Going for the Kill
    Report on Religious Slaughter
    by Juliet Gellatley BSc (Zoology),
    .
    Under UK law, all farmed animals have to be stunned to render them unconscious before their throats are cut. However, a special legal exemption means that animals slaughtered, “by a religious method” – i.e. for halal or kosher meat – are exempt from this law and can have their throats cut whilst fully conscious. The terror and pain which these animals experience is immense. They are held in metal crushes or forced onto their backs before having their necks forcibly extended and their throats slashed. Death can take minutes.
    These rules apply to all mainstream slaughter. In fact animals have had to be stunned before slaughter in the UK since 1919. But religious or religious slaughter is exempt.

    The UK law states that for religious slaughter the animal need not be stunned or killed outright before the throat is cut. Instead, the knife must be undamaged and of sufficient size to “ensure that each animal is slaughtered by the severance, by rapid, uninterrupted movements of a knife, of both its carotid arteries and both its jugular veins.”
    .
    So in Muslim or Jewish slaughter the animal’s throat may be cut while he or she is fully conscious and so bleeds to death. Although pre-stunning is becoming increasingly acceptable for animals killed for halal meat, animals killed for kosher meat are rarely pre-stunned. They are occasionally given a “post-cut” stun – they are stunned immediately after the throat is cut.
    The law does state for all slaughter that it should be carried out without the infliction of unnecessary suffering. However, as this report shows, animals do suffer greatly during both mainstream and religious slaughter
    Even Britain’s biggest hotel and restaurant group Whitbread, which owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chains, among many others, has admitted that more than three-quarters of its poultry is halal.
    ‘Religious freedom does not override other moral considerations and the suffering caused by this form of slaughter is so severe that it cannot be allowed to prevent action to be taken.
    Consumers can do their bit by boycotting places that persist in selling meat from unstunned animals.’
    …..
    Halal and kosher meat will have to be labelled under new European Union rules.
    Millions of cows, goats and chickens are slaughtered without stunning each year in the UK under Muslim and Jewish practices, which enjoy an exemption from animal welfare laws.
    The RSPCA, other welfare organisations and the Government’s veterinary experts say the practice is cruel and should be ended, but another concern is that the meat re-enters the general food chain where it is unwittingly consumed by the general population.
    I believe this whole thing is a complete mess and desperately needs sorting out.
    There is an MP on the case but I have forgotten his name. Sorry.

  18. Bernard from Bucks says:

    The MP was Philip Davies – sorry I don’t have the date of this.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9714000/9714686.stm
    I bought a bag of walnuts yesterday. On the label it said – “Warning. This product may contain nuts.”
    Last month, MPs in the Commons rejected a ten-minute-rule bill that would have made it mandatory for retailers to label all of the halal and kosher meat on sale and make it clear on the packaging that the animals were “killed without stunning”. The bill’s proponent, the Tory backbencher Philip Davies, claimed that the meat was being “forced upon” shoppers “without their knowledge”. It was defeated by the narrowest of margins – 73 votes to 70.
    Question: Why were there only 143 paid representative in the House?
    Question: Why are people opposed to this labelling, – whereas I am informed that – ‘Nuts contain nuts’.
    The world has gone………
    Sorry to swamp your blog this evening, but as an animal lover, this subject is something of a sore point with me. I have a very large file on this but, I’m sure you have had enough of me this evening.
    Regards Bernard

  19. John Galt says:

    Cats – Yup my daughter Samantha is a big fan of Pandan cake. We buy one with every weekly shop when at home.

    Not having a particularly sweet tooth, palm sugar is not really my thing, but most locals use it in coffee and cooking.

  20. CountingCats says:

    Ah, I’d use them in savoury food, not sweet. My curries are heavily Sri Lankan influenced, for reasons I won’t go into here, and cashew nut curry, cooked in fresh coconut milk and strips of pandan, is wonderful.

    The palm sugar would take the edge of dishes where vinegar was an ingredient.

  21. CountingCats says:

    Bernard,

    Swamp all you wish.

  22. Paul Marks says:

    When I am in Israel everyone (even when eating out) assumes I will want pork – after all I am obviously an American (actually I am English – but there is no point in explaining that one) and an American Christian (actually I am indeed a Christian – but how do people know by looking?), anyways….

    I very much doubt that pork is Kosher (i.e. killed by the Jewish method – what would be the point? pork is forbidden to Jews anyway….) – so there must be a lot of nonKosher butchers and so on in Israel. Perhaps there will eventually be more nonKosher butchers in Israel than there will be nonhalal butchers in England.

  23. Julie near Chicago says:

    Bernard, and RAB, thank you for the info.

  24. Umbongo says:

    In the 80s I was sent to Israel by a Wall Street investment bank to inspect the assets of a private sector (ie non-socialist) cooperative. This was part of the due diligence process in a possible IPO. As it happened, the plan failed and the IPO never took place.

    Coming to the purpose of this comment: part of my trip entailed – to my horror – visiting the cooperative’s various abattoirs. I was invited to attend the ritual slaughters at one of the abattoirs.

    Briefly, the slaughters of cattle which I witnessed took about 15-30 seconds from start to finish and involved the cow being led into the slaughter room, put in a “cage”, having its throat slit and being hauled up on a hook or rope to bleed out. There was only one cow in at a time and, as far as I could see, the cattle outside waiting for slaughter were calm: in fact there appeared to be no suffering either in expectation of slaughter or during the killing process itself.

    The animals were not stunned and therefore to effect a humane killing it was up to the slaughterer to carry out his function as rapidly as possible. In the slaughters that I witnessed it seemed that the cow was effectively dead about one second after its throat was slit but that’s only my impression. There was no visible reaction from the cow and, had it not been supported in a kind of cage, I can only assume it would have collapsed on to the floor of the abattoir: there was no “struggle” or writhing after the throat-slit. The slaughterers said that it was a point of pride not to cause animals suffering and the quicker the deed was done (and the sharper the knife) the better.

    Having been brought up to believe that stunning followed by shooting was the only humane method I was pleasantly surprised (if that’s the phrase to use) that experienced and skilful slaughterers could apparently achieve a humane result in the absence of stunning. However, IMHO such skill is only achievable where there’s a fair throughput of animals. Accordingly, it doesn’t surprise me that RAB’s experience of ritual slaughter is so different since, for him, it was an infrequent occurrence.

    FWIW I have no compunction about eating kosher meat since, in the UK anyway, the production of such meat is (pace RAB) overseen by an effective private watchdog (the Kashrus Commission) which, as I understand it, represents all strands of “official” Jewry in the UK. As to halal, I have no idea. There is not, I believe, an equivalent all-encompasing “Halal Commission” representing “official” Islam so, when you eat self-described halal products, you’re on your own.

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