Have you got a problem with halal meat? Too bad. Deal with it

I want halal meat to be labelled — but on my terms. Not yours.

Once again we see the guaranteed-to-happen-once-a-year uproar about halal* slaughter which we have become accustomed to seeing in the media.

When I started writing this blog about the recent “scandal” about halal meat being used in Pizza Express , I thought I’d try to give a detailed counter to the arguments made about halal slaughter being excessively cruel.

But then I decided I won’t — for 2 main reasons:

  1. There is no platform to discuss this topic properly; instead we find an environment where there is sensationalism and emotive arguments used to attack Muslims. Writing a detailed counter to arguments put forward would not make any difference because this topic isn’t discussed, it’s used as another stick to beat Muslims with. It is this attitude, more that the argument themselves, which needs challenging.
  2. I’m angry (mainly because of point 1) and wanted to just let the anger flow and write how I feel.

So, let’s begin…

I haven’t got an issue with halal meat being labelled. In fact, I want that to happen.

On one condition.

I only want halal meat labelled if you also label all other types of meat with how the animal was killed.

- Electric stunning of sheep, cows, chickens
- Gassing pigs and turkeys

- Using a captive gun pistol to destroy a cow’s brain

- Hens kept in battery cages so small that not one hen can extend their wings, and yet there are 3 or more in each cage. The animals’ muscles and bones wasting away from lack of use
- Foie gras which is made by force-feeding ducks and geese so that their livers are fattened

You name it, I want it labelled. Label all of it. Don’t hold back.

Don’t just label food when it comes to Muslim slaughter rituals. Nah, tell people about all the “civilised” methods used to kill animals.

You might think I’m being flippant about the issue, and you’d be right. I am.

I don’t care about discussing the issue because most of the people that are “concerned” about halal slaughter don’t really care about the issue either.

There isn't a discussion or a dialogue with Muslims about halal slaughter methods. We’re not spoken to. We’re spoken at.

All around us we see different aspects of Islam being attacked, and this feels like just another one of them.

The dominant narrative of our time, perpetuated by “experts” and bigots, is that Islam is a backward, medieval religion with barbaric practices and values. The other aspect of that narrative, although not always openly said but is generally understood, is that the West is civilised, ethical and focused on working towards noble ideals. The media sensationalism around halal meat feeds right into this distorted way of thinking

Even if a Muslim does try to make a rational case for Islamic slaughter methods it will be ignored because the environment in which the issue is not focused on dealing with the topic.

Just look at the over-the-top emphasis by many media outlets on Islamic slaughter methods. Does it feel like this is genuine concern about animal welfare or about using another point to attack Islam and Muslims with?

Does it feel like it’s about trying to find a solution to this topic or does it feel like it’s about warning people about how barbaric Muzlamic practices are slowly taking over our society?

Finally, when you consider that this recent “secret” was known about for over a year, and even tweeted about by Pizza Express in 2012 , you can’t expect any Muslim to genuinely believe that this is about creating a dialogue

Those who are opposed to halal slaughter methods act as if a lot of the other methods, “their” methods, are better, more civilised — but they’re not.

Many of them are extremely inhumane, painful to the animal and the culture of abuse in many abattoirs is damning of this “civilised” society we live in.

But they don’t want to focus on that — no, they’re concerned about only what the Muslims are up to. They only want halal meat to be labelled. What about other slaughter methods? Let’s publicise them too. Why not push for all meat to be labelled with how the animal is killed?

This issue about halal meat is a politicised issue, used to attack Muslims, so trying to discuss the issue is pointless — it is being discussed against a backdrop of attacks on Muslims on different issues and this feeds into that. Instead, there must be a confrontational attitude.

If these people really cared about people being able to make an informed choice about the meat they eat then they should want people to know about all the methods that are employed, right?

Something tells me that there won’t be any calls for that any time soon…

And if you’re one of those people who thinks they’re better than Muslims let me summarise this blog for you:

Have you got a problem with halal meat? Too bad. Deal with it.

Undoubtedly there are going to be some non-Muslims who read this and think I'm ignoring the steps being taken to have more ethical ways of slaughtering animals in the UK but they should realise — I'm here to highlight how the issue of halal slaughter is used as a political tool to attack Muslims. When you have Islamophobes jumping on the bandwagon and using this as an opportunity to attack Muslims you can’t expect there to be dialogue and discussion. Until that culture changes, don’t expect things to move forward.

A message to Muslim readers

At this point I think it’s worth pointing something out to Muslims reading this article— don’t discuss issues with someone who isn’t looking for a discussion. Confront their attitudes.

We’re not living in a world where there is open dialogue on different topics. Open society? Absolute rubbish. Muslims aren’t treated equally and we’re seen as inferior so when you attempt to reason with some of these people they don’t see your arguments —what they see is you trying to make excuses for a barbaric way of life. It only reinforces the view of many of these racist supremacists.

The only way to deal with them is to confront them. Confront them on the topics they supposedly care about — for example, if they care SO much about women’s rights why aren’t they outraged by drone strikes that killed Muslim women? Why don’t they protest about Muslim women being forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints?

This attitude is important for two reasons:

  1. It messes with a racist supremacist’s mind — they’ve always thought they are better than Muslims so by being confrontational it throws them off their high horse and be forced to deal with you as a human. Not as someone inferior to them, but as an equal human being.
  2. It gives Muslims confidence and self worth— one of the main impacts of the unequal society we live in is that it makes Muslims start to see themselves as inferior. Muslims begin thinking of themselves and their community as barbaric, backwards and uncivilised. By confronting the attitudes that attack Islam you give Muslims, especially the next generation, some self worth. By confronting bigots and racist supremacists you help other Muslims to stand up too.

I hope some of the Muslims who read this consider these points next time halal meat, or any other topic, comes up.

*the actual term for the Islamic slaughter ritual is ‘zabihah’. Halal just means ‘permissible’. I only used the term ‘halal slaughter method’ because most of the people who are “concerned” or angry about zabihah don’t actually know much. Thought I’d point that out to all of you that get your knickers in a twist about zabihah. At least do some bloody research (pun intended) on the topic you’re supposedly concerned about.