Last Update 21:38
Saturday, 19 October 2019

War of petitions over halal meat in the UK

Muslim community organisations believe halal slaughter is under threat

Marwan Sultan in London , Saturday 21 Feb 2015
Halal meat
The halal meat market in the UK is estimated at about £3 billion ($4.62 billion). (Photo: Marwan Sultan)
Views: 4068
Views: 4068

The Muslim community in the UK has launched a campaign against active attempts to halt halal animal slaughter in the country.

Mosques, Islamic centres and imams from all over the UK have called on Muslims to sign an e-petition, appealing to the government to “continue to protect the right to non-stun religious slaughter in the UK (the Islamic and Jewish way of slaughter).”

The issue of halal slaughter hit the headlines earlier this month when animal rights campaigners released footage of animals at a halal slaughterhouse in North Yorkshire being kicked and mistreated.

Observant Muslims are forbidden in Islam to eat meat from animals that have not been killed by having their throats cut with a sharp knife while conscious. Some Muslims believe that a mechanised form of killing also conforms with religious precepts.

EU and UK law requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter, to render them unable to feel pain, but non-stun slaughter is permitted for certain communities, including Muslims and Jews.

Muslim woman signs the pro-Islamic slaughter petition
A Muslim shopper signs the petition supporting religious slaughter which was made available in the halal meat section at a Tesco supermarket. (Photo: Marwan Sultan

Challenging non-stun slaughter

The petition comes in response to another online petition organised by animal welfare activists which calls for a ban on killing animals without first stunning them. It has attracted over 115,000 signatures.

“We must differentiate between religious and non-stun slaughter,” the petition argues. “Our concern does not relate to religious belief but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter,” it added.

Its supporters say animal rights activists and research groups and societies, including the British Veterinary Association, have scientific evidence showing that non-stun slaughter allows animals to feel pain and compromises welfare.

The petition calls for “clearer slaughter-method labelling and post-cut stunning to improve welfare.”

Halal sign
The UK halal meat business is estimated to be worth about £3 billion ($4.62 billion). (Photo: Marwan Sultan)

‘No ban’

The petition, which was created on the British government’s e-petition website, is open for signatures until the end of March, but has already acquired enough signatures to be considered for a debate in parliament.

In a response, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said that “there will be no ban on religious slaughter in the UK” but that labelling protocols may be changed.

“We are awaiting the results of a European Commission study on method-of-slaughter labelling which is due this summer. We will look at possible options in light of that report,” it said.

In response, the petition being supported by the Muslim community argues that religious slaughter must be protected, saying that both Judaism and Islam require adherents to treat animals with kindness and to minimise pain when slaughtering.

It adds that scientific evidence shows minimisation of suffering when religious slaughter is practiced properly.

They also warned that stunning in abattoirs frequently fails to effectively stun the animal, thereby causing suffering.

“The British Veterinary Association and others opposing religious slaughter should focus on improving the competence of slaughterers who stun, instead of attacking methods that have been shown to minimise suffering,” the petition said.

Muslim community responds

About 86,000 people have signed the second petition; should it reach 100,000 signatures it too will be considered for debate in parliament.

Many Islamic community organisations in the UK have been lobbying in support of the petition.

The Muslim Council of Britain has encouraged supporters to sign.

“Together, we can protect non-stun religious slaughter,” the body said in a message to the Muslim community.

The most recent census showed that Muslims make up 4.8 percent of the British population.

The UK halal meat business is estimated to be worth about £3 billion ($4.62 billion). Some studies found Muslims eat more than 20 percent of all red meat produced in England.

The largest superstores in the UK, such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, now have special sections for halal meat to satisfy growing market demand.   

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D Keeble
27-02-2015 03:53am
We do not want to eat meat that is rejected as not clean to be kosher or halal, we don't want our animals barbarically slaughtered. It has been said that some animals can be non-stunned slaughtered for the consumption of muslims or Jews but not for general consumption, but no you want everyone to eat your unclean meat otherwise you would have to throw it away, or get prosecuted for not labeling it harem or kosher. but no you don't get prosecuted for not telling us that it has been barbarically slaughtered. In every other respect we have to be told what is in our food, but you get away with not telling us how it was slaughtered is that right. You want to take over all the meat trade in the world!
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22-02-2015 09:39pm
how about kosher meat?
Then they will need to ban kosher meet as well?
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Carol Lawson
23-03-2015 03:15am
Halal meat
We're very happy eating Halal meat in our school whether stunned or not + labelled or not!!! I think the anti-Halal campaign is just racism + animal rights extremists!! I signed + shared this pettition to protect halal/religious slaughter in the uk :)
suhail ahmad
24-02-2015 06:57pm
kosher meat not targeted
Anastasia. Here in UK, racist groups such as UKIP have openly stated that Jewish Kosher meat will not be subjected to this campaign (clearly the racist bigots are afraid of being labelled as anti-semitic). Instead, their efforts will be directed vociferously towards the halal meat market.

21-02-2015 09:24pm
nobady in britain or europe
asked you to come non of this countries are yours how you dare to demand????? if you dont like the people wishes,get the hell out towards your own countries,you might not like the free speech,as we have seen in january,but better believe me,even a cow is more worth to any person in right mind,than one of the killers of paris stop your damned demands and for a change,tell or even show us,what benefit YOU bring to our nations..difficult,because its ZERO
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23-02-2015 04:28pm
own country???
I am a white British Muslim who has every right to stay in the country her ancestors were born in for the last 400 years at least. Where is this country I am meant to go back to? Muslims do not have set countries we come from every country throughout the world. Learn more before speaking out please.
22-02-2015 09:12pm
from the typing mistake THIS comment of mine is great :)....61% of all germans dont like any more imigrants from countries out of europe,57% in britain....we have enough of your "WISHES" as guests

21-02-2015 09:20pm
i have a simple question (or two)
why: you live in a country,which heritage you want to change you think,you can overrule the peoples wishes by your "e-polls"? you think,anybody in his right mindset would allow you to slaughter animals that way,when the law forbids any harm to animals? YOU are special? better get out,people of mohamed,as long, as you can,60% roughly already have enough of your demanding wishes you state daily....against a reality,that every second of your tribe is criminal and/or religious extremist get out,as long,as you can on your own foot
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23-02-2015 03:56pm
no one gives a rat's ass about your opinion
23-02-2015 03:44am
Write in English, Please.
I find it unfathomable that the people defending 'England' and 'English' values have difficulty mastering the language. It is something that truly offends me, and I would like to see it corrected before being told what it means to be 'English'. Also, on that note, what does it mean to be English? Last I heard, academic literature highlights the fact that immigration and diversity has always been a part of Britain's heritage. Thus, this desire to revert back to a pristine pre-immigration past is just a product of a-historic, nationalist discourses that are not grounded in reality. Also, where does the 60% statistic come from? Lastly, its ironic that the law prohibits harm to animals when we still have eggs from caged hens, and if you've ever seen an animal get stunned and then killed, its not pleasant/any less traumatic. However, if you could raise the standard of your English I would genuinely appreciate it, the irony is unbearable.

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