The horror of halal slaughter

The horror of halal slaughter May 31, 2011

I ADORE cooking Indian dishes. When I was still living in the UK my provisions cupboards were fully stocked with items readily available from a variety of stores stocking the herbs, spices and pastes needed to create great curries and other Asian recipes.
But here on the Costa Blanca in Spain I have been unable to find similar outlets – until yesterday, when, following directions given by a friend, I found a store that has everything one could wish for.
But I left empty-handed.

Because the shop prominently proclaimed itself a stockist of sharia-compliant meat and other products, I baulked at the idea of making any purchases. I detest the practice of religious slaughter because of the cruelty involved, and will not, on principle, consume halal or kosher meat. Nor will I support any establishments that offer it.
An animal is subjected to intolerable levels of cruelty before being messily slaughtered in an Indonesian abattoir. Click on pic to see a video produced by Animals Australia and the RSPCA as part of their campaign to end live animal exports.
My horror of halal slaughter went into overdrive this morning when I was sent a link by David Nicholls, President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, to a Four Corners programme aired last night on the Australian TV channel, ABC1. Called A Bloody Business, it was an expose of Australia’s live cattle export trade to Indonesia.
Australia sends about 500,000 cattle there each year in a trade worth more than $300 million. Six million cattle have been sent to Indonesia for religious slaughter since the trade began two decades ago, supplying a growing demand for beef.
Despite industry assurances that the welfare of cattle sent to Indonesia is “generally good”, Four Corners revealed that many thousands of these animals die slow and hideous deaths. Four Corners went into the abattoirs that the Australian meat industry does not want the public to see. The results shocked shock and confronted the industry and government officials with the question:

How much suffering must these animals endure for the sake of profit?

The transcript of the programme can be accessed here.
Given Islam’s contempt for human life – as evidenced by this report of the stoning of a Muslim girl for taking part in a beauty contest – it is most unlikely that conditions in halal abattoirs will improve any time soon. This is not to say that we should give up on campaigning against religious slaughter. On the contrary, we should be redoubling out efforts to end it.
Hat Tip: BarrieJohn (stoning report).

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  • Angela_K

    Neither our Government nor the EU has the guts to ban this barbarism; they always kowtow to the powerful muslim/jewish lobby knowing such a ban would spark riots. The animal rights lobby – many of whom are no better than religious fundies – shy away from the ritual slaughter debate.
    Don’t buy meat from the big supermarkets or the fast food chains; all you are doing is supporting ritual slaughter! Buy your meat from a small local butcher – organic if possible. My butcher lists the farms and animal tag numbers from which it obtains meat. And no it is not expensive, the quality is better. If people stop buying halal/kosher, the declining economy of scale pushes up the price making ritual slaughter uneconomic.
    We should all harass the supermarkets etc with letters and emails demanding that they label their meat to show if it has come ritually slaughter beasts. We must stamp out this revolting religious practice.
    Rant over.

  • Rich

    Very good points Angela. I always wonder why Peta and the other animal rights groups keep quiet despite it being a disgusting practise.
    Unfortunatly , it seems like people ignore the animal welfare bit and assume you’re being “racist.” “I disagree with halal” sounds to them as “I hate muslims” and the same with kosher. And althought kosher isn’t as widespread as halal food, I know if it was and discussions were brought up some people would argue it’s antisemitic and how to opress jews in the pass one of the first things that would be done would be to ban kosher meat.
    And of course the old chessnut of “Well you don’t care about the animals since you eat meat anyway.”
    I just wish things were labelled more clearly and everyone knew what halal slaughter was so they could make an informed decision whether to eat it or not. Everyone I’ve spoken to about it never knew the process and as soon as they did they were appaled.

  • Christy

    For the person that said they wonder why PETA isn’t all over this: They have been… for YEARS.

  • stargraves

    Whenever I criticise Halal practice as disgusting barbarism, as well as the racism card, and religiously inolerant criticism, I ALSO get told, are you a vegetarian, No? Then you have no right to criticise – which I find is a pretty ignorant defence.
    You eat meat – therefore you must approve of animal slaughter – so therefore you can’t comment on how others do it – apparently no matter how sickening the barbarity involved?
    Hardly! – it’s precisely BECAUSE I am a consumer – I want to see animal welfare at the highest levels. Look how free range eggs are supplanting battery chicken farms – 10-15 years ago – it was difficult to get free range eggs – now they are everywhere.
    The fact that Halal meat is insidiously slipping into menus un-announced, due to it’s overproduction and lack of labelling, is the most galling part as it is grossly offensive to me to uniwttingly support nonsensical practises derived from primitive imaginations, being used to ensure appalling levels of animal mistreatment that surely must go against DEFRA’s policies in terms of humane slaughter.

  • tony e

    I completely agree with all the previous posts. Good comments – well made.

  • chrsbol

    There is some up to date news from the BHA here. I agree with all comments to get rid of this barbarism.

  • Rich

    Never realised Christy. Just haven’t seen anything or heard of anything they’ve done regarding it.

  • remigius

    Is there anything in Islam that isn’t an affront to human decency?

  • AgentCormac

    Completely agree, stargraves.
    If an animal has been raised and slaughtered to feed me, I want to be sure it has been treated as humanely and considerately as possible. To actually do the opposite, and ensure it has endured as much pain and degradation as possible, is, to me, not only utterly inhuman but speaks volumes about the psyche of the people who inflict the suffering.

  • Stuart H.

    Seems to me to win this argument you have to make economic sense, not moral. Especially, to prevent a situation where slaughterhouses move to halal as a ‘default’ position because it’s a cheaper option, which is an argument I’ve seen from one local slaughterhouse already, and which in turn means it slips, for example, into school and NHS meals as the cheapest option, and so on.
    Also, may be better to aim at getting supermarkets to change first, not the government. If, for example, Tesco could be pushed to dropping halal or kosher (don’t even know if they do already) the others have to follow to stay competitive. That leaves halal and kosher as ‘specialist’ markets for Muslims and Jews, which in real terms is maybe 5% of population. Then their costs go up, then, as many Muslim and Jewish families aren’t doing so well economically, even they cut corners like every other less well off family.
    By comparison, moral arguments will get nowhere. Be honest here -everyone, for example, says they recycle, buy Fairtrade, support local shops… and almost everyone is lying. (not passing moral judgement there, just stating the bleeding obvious)

  • barriejohn
  • barriejohn
  • Stonyground

    In either an NSS report or a Freethinker magazine I remember reading about attempts to have Halal and Kosher meat clearly labelled as such. The jewish guy complained that this would make Kosher meat uneconomical to produce. My thought as I read this was ‘well that’s your effing problem isn’t it? You’re the one who wants to kill animals in an unneccesarily cruel manner for no good reason’. Of course if religion were not involved the matter would have been dealt with years ago, anyone who wished to use these slaughter methods without invoking religion would be told that they must abide by the law.

  • JR

    The way animals have been exploited and miss treated by human beings through the centuries is pretty disgusting. Then to throw religious rubbish into the equation which enhances their suffering is beyond belief. If hell exist, animals suffer it daily through exploitation, miss treatment and cruelty. Hopefully, one day, we will have evolved sufficiently not to want to eat the flesh of dead animals.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Just seen on the bbc that the Aussie authorities have suspended the live exports.

  • David Anderson

    Meanwhile, according to the link about the girl stoned to death, the USA executed 46 people in 2010.
    Barbarity continues unabated in the 21st century.

  • Spencer

    Do any of you actually even know what halal is SUPPOSED to mean? The actual correct, “halal” way to slaughter an animal is simply to cut its throat, making sure to sever its windpipe. The main point is to kill it as quickly as possible. The ACTUAL problem here is that these people are saying their meat is halal when it isn’t, just like how someone above said Fair Trade stuff doesn’t always deliver what it says it does.

  • MrGronk

    Even if the welfare of the poor beast doesn’t bother you, it’s a well-known fact that meat quality is damaged if the animal dies in fear. That said, treatment of animals is hardly any better in “western” abattoirs – I suggest people read “Fast Food Nation” to see just how gross conditions can get. I don’t consider myself a sentimentalist – I don’t even believe animals can have rights, as such (more a question of humans having duties to animals) – but nowadays I do what I can to track meat from more humane sources.

  • Newspaniard

    I have recently read that the European Parliament wanted to pass a bill labelling all halal/kosher meat but, guess who, the bloody corrupt EU commissioners stomped on it. It doesn’t matter if the EU Parliament gets a 100% vote, if it doesn’t suit the commission then it doesn’t get through.

  • Brian Jordan

    I’m fed up of having to say this, but here I go again: slaughter without stunning is ILLEGAL in the UK. It is only allowed as an EXCEPTION to meet the religious “needs” of Muslims and Jews who eat the resulting meat. Surely this means that the average supermarket or takeaway which sells it to the rest of us is breaking the law. Why can’t someone bring a test case and stop the state ignoring its own laws?
    Animal welfare apart, I thought Christians were supposed to reject animals which had been sacrificed to a god, as happens in halal slaughter. So they should be avoiding halal meat however it has been slaughtered.

  • This isn’t a religious matter, it’s cultural. Outside of western, indeed let’s be honest Anglo-Saxon, cultures animal welfare simply isn’t a big concern, people welfare isn’t a particularly high priority either if it comes to that.
    What’s so stupid about the abbatoir situation is that it’s actually easier, more efficient and safer to kill the beasts humanely and properly with a sharp blade than all that faffing around at huge risk of injury to the animal and the slaughterman.
    Then again just watch Indonesians working on a building site or any other semi-skilled workplace and you quickly realise that concepts like health and safety, efficiency and proper practice aren’t considered particularly relevant to people’s jobs.

  • Polyneuron

    I emailed Tesco and asked about the labelling of meat to indicate how the animal was slaughtered. The response:
    I would like to reassure you that we require all slaughter processes in our supply chain, including Halal, to meet our stringent animal welfare requirements. In every case, the animal is stunned before slaughter so that it is insensible and feels no pain.
    Like all other major UK supermarkets, we source from suppliers who serve Muslim as well as non-Muslim customers. Some of these suppliers process all their meat to Halal standards. For example, all New Zealand lamb meets Halal standards. In these cases, all of our processes still meet the same stringent animal welfare requirements and all animals are stunned prior to slaughter whether the meat is sold as Halal or non-Halal.
    Our high standards of animal welfare and our approach to labelling comply with current UK law. To add further labelling requirements would add unnecessary cost for the consumer. The vast majority of our fresh meat products are produced on British farms without receiving a Halal blessing and can be traced as such. They include British organic lamb and chicken as well as the Willow Farm and Finest Free Range lines.

  • Pingback: Australia: Live cattle exports to Indonesia in limbo after animal torture complaints | Tea and Politics()

  • Allocer

    I find it amazing and laughable that some of you would complain about the rights of an animal but gladly chomp on a carrot. Also, statistics show that even when an animal is stunned, they can still feel pain unconcious.
    But oh no… The words of Halal, Muslim, and islam are terrfying words. Pathetic, I feel bad for the guy who has to sanatize chairs after you folks finish sitting on your butts and blog.