Ritual slaughter has been part of the religious practise of Muslims and Jews for millennia, yet in recent years, ritually slaughtered meat has become a contentious issue. Many nations in Europe including Denmark and Poland have banned ritual slaughter without pre-stunning (rendering unconscious) the animal before killing it. In the UK, however, the media and a often misinformed public have focussed almost exclusively on halal slaughter, because major supermarkets have been found to sell meat conforming to halal standards without telling anybody.
One must look at what halal slaughter actually is before condemning it, which few people seem to actually do. ‘Ordinary’ slaughter, as prescribed by law, involves the animal first being stunned, by bolt-in-the-brain or by electricity, before being hoisted and the throat (including all major blood vessels to the brain) being severed, leaving the carcass to exsanguinate. Halal slaughter, for the vast majority of animals, is the same, except at the moment of the cut to the throat, a prayer is said. For the vast majority of halal meat that is it. Opponents of halal meat claim they oppose it on animal rights grounds, that because the animals are not stunned, it is cruel. I agree, if they are not stunned, it is cruel. The thing is, 88% of animals killed for halal usage are stunned, and Muslim scholars have made it clear that halal meat can be stunned. If people were really bothered about animal rights, they’d go after kosher meat, only 10% of which is stunned, but they go after halal, showing it is human prejudice rather than animal rights driving the anti-halal movement.
Frankly, slaughter is a messy business. End of. Halal or not, it’s pretty clear that slaughter is something few of us could stomach seeing in real life. If you really have an animal rights objection to halal slaughter, assuming you are rational, you will have an objection to all slaughter If you do then there are two options. Either, you deal with it and eat meat, or become vegetarian. That’s it. Opposing halal meat on ethical grounds whilst ignoring the rest of the meat industry is ignorant, irrational and ridiculousm. If you do, just admit you have an issue with halal because it’s an Islamic concept, and promptly get some diversity training to stop you being such an awful person.
Those who have taken real issue with the fact that supermarkets sell a large amount of halal meat without labelling it. Apparently, it matters to a lot of people that a few words are said in Arabic as the animal is killed. Why, what’s going to happen? Will I suddenly start praising Allah if I eat a halal steak? Of Course not, people who want halal labelled in supermarkets want it so they can make a distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them, in order to stigmatise halal. Labelling is demanded so people can freely exercise their anti-Muslim prejudices, not make a free choice. Again, I would accept it if the demand was for the labelling of stunned or non-stunned meat, as stunning is required, in my view, for humane slaughter, but the demand is for halal labelling, so again, the only reason that remains is hatred.
Even those who claim that halal should be banned because Britain is a (nominally) Christian country demonstrate extreme ignorance. I refer those who claim than halal should not be allowed in a Christian nation to Romans 14:1-23, which states that Christians should not restrict others in exercising their self-imposed dietary restrictions (due to belief or otherwise). So, looking at the Bible, Christians should accept rather than attack those who choose to eat halal meat, as their scripture tells them to. Again, the real reason behind the Christian nation argument is a latent Islamophobia found in many people, choosing to hide behind their religion in order to spread hatred.
The evidence is clear, halal slaughter, on the most part, is no different to run-of-the-mill slaughter. The 12% of halal meat that is killed without stunning, I do not defend, and work should be done to ensure all halal meat is stunned. Attacking all halal due to this percentage is irrational, and really just veiled Islamophobia from bigots. If you have animal rights concerns, look at the meat industry as a whole, not just the halal slaughterhouses, because doing that is prejudice and stigmatisation, plain and simple.
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