Egalite, sans guillements (Equality without quotation marks), a social collective, has decided to make an appeal to Muslim show owners to offer cheaper aliments to socioeconomically weak Muslims during Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is traditionally coined by high expenditures for festive iftar meals following the breaking of the day-long fast after sunset. A Muslim family in Belgium spends in average 60 to 70 Euro for one iftar meal. A significant amount of Belgian Muslims are, however, unable to afford such expensive meals during Ramadan.
Egalite, sans guillements argues that Ramadan is the month of sharing and conviviality, thus shop owners should in this tradition enable all Muslims to participate in the iftar celebrations. Due to a sharp rise in earnings during Ramadan, in average three times more halal products are sold during the month, shop owners should be able to still make profits whilst making concessions to help fiscally restraint Muslim families.
1 December 2012
Lancashire County Council has come under heavy criticism for distributing food banned in Islam as halal food among Muslim pupils. The Lancashire Council of Mosques wrote in a letter to Muslim parents “suppliers of ‘halal’ products are not accredited by any halal certifying organization that is in line with the halal criteria adopted by the LCM” and urged the parents not to allow their children to eat meat at Lancashire County Council schools as they do not have halal food labels.
However, Lancashire council leader Geoff Driver has rejected the LCM concerns saying the supplied food meets standards applied to all halal food in schools across Britain.
Toronto Star – May 4, 2011
The sign at the halal meat counter at Sunny Foodmart says “We can speak your language!” It lists 10 (Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish, Russian, Bengali, English, Pashto, German, Arabic and Parsi) that staff can speak, though there are certainly more, like French. Sunny Foodmart is owned by three Chinese Canadians who have stocked food from a multitude of cultures and reached out to Muslim customers with a certified halal meat counter.
Provincial and federal food agencies don’t do religious certification for the halal market, so self-regulating certification agencies have sprung up. Sunny pays $150 a month to the Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA), which inspects and certifies slaughterhouses, meat processors and distributors, butchers, restaurants and fast-food outlets.
News Agencies – February 11, 2011
The French food store Casino has announced it will pull Herta sausages (of the Nestle brand) off its shelves as the product is suspected not to be halal. The supermarket chain announced it would conduct independent testing to guarantee that pork products were not within the halal-certified food. The Mosque of Paris is in charge of the certification of halal products by Nestle.
A boom in sales of halal products, including alcohol-free bubbly and goose liver paté approved by Islamic law, is being driven by the emergence of an affluent middle class of young Muslims in France. Known as the beurgeois – a play on bourgeois and the word beur, slang for a French person of North African descent – these new consumers are behind a rapidly expanding and highly profitable market in halal food and drinks.
With spending power worth an estimated €5.5bn a year these under-40s are forcing international food suppliers to cater for their demands. Younger members of France’s estimated 5 million-strong Muslim community – with whom relations have been strained by the recent debate on national identity and threats by Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-of-center government to ban the burqa – are asserting their economic muscle. As one French website put it, halal is “very good business” for French companies.
Telegraaf reports that halal foods are gaining Dutch shelf-space in the Netherlands. The halal food includes pork-free snacks such as sausages and meatballs in which the meat is processed according to Islamic law. Manufacturer Mekkafood from Venlo drove up production 25% this year, to 7,800 tons of halal meat. Producers note demand for halal products among non-Muslims, including popular Turkish pizzas, but note that the increase in the total number of Muslims also plays a role.
Saving and investing in line with religious principles is important for many Muslims and an increasing range of financial products is now available to meet Sharia rules. There are 1.8 million Muslims in Britain and surveys show that about three-quarters are interested in the idea of running their savings and investments in keeping with principles laid out in the Koran. While Sharia products are in their infancy in the United Kingdom, the uptake is very rapid.
While trade and investment are encouraged, Sharia rules prohibit involvement in companies whose activities touch on a wide range of industries including alcohol, gambling, pornography, human cloning, arms and many forms of entertainment. Industries associated with pork are also out. However, the biggest difficulty for devout Muslims and those financial groups which aim to serve them is the principle of riba. Riba means that you cannot receive or pay interest, because Islam defines interest as a form of usury.
Interest is hard to remove from any financial transaction. The entire conventional banking industry, with products from mortgages through to credit-cards and deposit accounts, depends on calculating interest. The answer that Sharia-compliant accounts offer is to convert the interest normally paid into a form of profit or loss. Accounts or mortgages will often be marketed as offering competitive rates measured against non-Sharia, interest-based products, but the structure of the financial proposition is different. British banks have come up with a wide range of Islamic financial products such as accounts, mortgages, investment plans and credit cards, adapting to the strong demand among the Muslim population.
The Malaysian trade minister Rafidah Aziz is encouraging the French community to source halal products from Malaysia to serve Muslim communities in Europe. Citing the widespread appeal of product quality and integrity, Aziz is encouraging a Malaysian/French partnership to build a healthy trade relationship between the two countries.