‘Halal days’ for French Muslims

The fourth annual “halal days” were held May 18-21 and took place in schools, associations, and other Muslim organizations. The event aimed to “raise awareness about the importance of eating halal and eating well.”

Participating organizations agreed to open their doors to the public to better understand “the foundations of halal food, its culture, and its characteristics, as well as the processes used by all to guarantee that products are halal compliant.” Last year, 1,250 people signed up for the events.

“It was mostly attacks by the National Front on the halal market in 2014 that made us think of this event, to create a zone conducive to debate,” explained Lynda Ayadi, the director of the marketing company Heaven Strategy which organizes the “halal days.”

“We felt a strong demand from the Muslim community to provide perspective and information on the halal market,” she added. “More recently, this feeling was reinforced following the polemic sparked by the animal protection association L214’s video of French slaughterhouses, which they blamed for animal suffering.”

Ayadi insisted that the event’s goal was not to “spread propaganda,” and invited those who oppose halal “to come and participate in the debates.”

300 butchers adopt ‘non halal’ label

The association “Vigilance Halal” (or, Attention Halal) was founded in 2012 by the veterinarian Alain de Peretti, who also is a National Front supporter. The organization aims to combat ritual slaughter, namely halal, through public ad campaigns and other efforts.

“We are hidden because the State, the industry, and Islam are all in collusion. For economic reasons, France turns a blind eye and finances the Muslim religion and terrorism, all the while informed [of what it is doing],” said Lou Mantély, the association’s spokesperson.

The association has recently released a new label that vendors can adopt, “meat of French tradition.” This label was part of a major marketing campaign that began in 2016 and is aimed at 5,000 butchers. The aim is to aid “in the fight against communitarianism.”

“Our goal is that non halal becomes a commercial trend. This will force the slaughterhouses to do less ritual slaughter,” said Mantély. More than 300 butchers in France and Navarre have adopted the label.

 

 

 

Macron and Le Pen’s positions on halal

In France the issue of halal meat has often been polemicized in presidential campaigns.

Le Pen has previously stated that “according to the Île-de-France Agricultural Chamber, 100% of meat killed in the region is halal.” She added that “ritual slaughter makes animals suffer, but it also poses numerous questions in terms of tracing the meat’s origins, as well as transparency regarding the products offered to consumers. Ritual slaughter thus causes considerable stress and suffering for the animals killed, which has been shown in numerous videos taken in slaughterhouses that show the animals’ throats being slit while they are still alive…”

Macron, however, has had less to say about the issue. When asked about his position, he stated that “the debate must be respectful of everyone’s spiritual beliefs.” He has spoken out in favor of “all meat (even imports) sold in France to be labeled” in order to “specify the method of slaughter.” Macron called for “additional video surveillance in the slaughterhouses” as well as “inspections by veterinarians.” Unlike Le Pen, however, he has called for these measures to apply to all types of slaughter, not just halal.

 

Nathalie Goulet discusses foreign financing and recent Senate report (pdf)

Following the recent attacks on French soil several politicians have proposed measures to reform Islam’s structure and the financing of Islam in France. For Nathalie Goulet, UDI senator from Orne who recently published a report on foreign financing, the priority should be to end the practice of ‘supplied’ imams and to establish a foundation to centralize Islam’s financing in France.

Le Monde: Foreign countries are often criticized for their influence on Islam in France. Is it true?

Nathalie Goulet: The influence of certain countries came as a great surprise to many when our report was published. But it’s not always those that we think that have the greatest presence. The Gulf countries are much less influential than the ‘countries of origin,’ Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey. These three states exercise a real influence by financing the construction of buildings and schools, imam training, and supplying imams for France’s mosques—who are paid by their countries of origin—and through the governance of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

Le Monde: Manuel Valls said he was in favor of a temporary suspension of financing from foreign countries. Do you agree?

Goulet: The Prime Minister speaks of suspending foreign financing, but who will be their replacements? While one could hope that there would be no more foreign financing, it would be a mistake to think that the problem could be solved just like that. The question of foreign financing is ancillary. The Louvre or the Arab World Institute also receive foreign funding, in a transparent manner. Before anything, we must work to end the practice of ‘supplied’ imams who are trained in Morocco.

Le Monde: According to the report there are 301 imams sent from other countries for around 2,500 places of worship. Where is the problem?

There are 301 opportunities, for French citizens of Muslim faith, to assist with sermons led by imams who are not French and from foreign countries. It’s more problematic than foreign funding of mosques. Imams sent from Turkey, for example, arrive under the title of “social workers” and not as imams. They barely speak French, have never seen an Armenian in their life, and don’t know that in France we recognize the Armenian Genocide. The majority of supplied imams have never received an education on the Holocaust, the death penalty, homophobia…they don’t know these important contextual references, but they play a role in communities.

Le Monde: Why is the question of financing critical?

Goulet: We consider Islam to be a religion like any other, but we don’t provide it with the means to be. Islam is a recent religion in our territory. There is a need for catch-up compared to other religions. The Muslim communities need structure, schools, mosques, and associations. Muslims need to be able to practice their religion decently.

Today, if a 14 year-old girl wants to wear the veil, she is going to find an Islamic school, but there are few. A Jewish child who wants to keep Kosher and wear a kippa will find a Jewish school. The tensions are more pronounced in Muslim communities because they don’t have all the tools to practice their religion.

Le Monde: What are the paths for financing Islam in France? What do you think about the idea of re-launching a ‘foundation of French Islam’ discussed by Manuel Valls?

Goulet: We must revive the Foundation for Islamic Works to monitor foreign funds. This foundation must have a joint government with a representative from the State Council and an accountant from the Treasury. We must also implement cost accounting so that Algerian money is used for Algerian places of worship, money from Morocco is used for Moroccan places of worship…it’s necessary if we want the communities to agree to this foundation. Algerians don’t want to pay for Turks, and vice versa, even if the idea of an Algerian place of worship makes no sense in France.

Le Monde: Julien Dray, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Francois Bayrou support instituting a “halal tax” to finance Islam in France.

Goulet: Legally, it’s impossible to institute a tax on a religious item…and technically, a ‘halal tax’ would also be impossible to institute in practice, because there is no consensus on the notion of halal.

What could be possible is that religious representatives themselves institute a private fee for services relating to slaughter, which would be set by the community, collected, and sent to the Foundation.

Le Monde: Aside from financing, is there a representation problem?

Goulet: Establishing the CFCM was necessary, there needs to be an interlocutor with the State. But throughout the years, this body has never succeeded in being representative. If I was president of the CFCM, I would open up a debate, I would establish constituent assembly to review the statutes, I would call on youths and members of associations, who may feel excluded, I would institute the principle of one man, one woman, one vote…But that must come from Muslims themselves. Maybe one day, young Muslims will launch an online petition and create a concurrent association.

 

 

 

 

Prison officials’ ordering Muslim prisoner-cook to handle pork may violate the Free Exercise Clause

So the Ninth Circuit held last Friday in Jones v. Williams, though the decision turns in part on the prison’s own admission that the kitchen could function just fine even if such requests for exemption were granted (and of course the rule would apply equally to Jewish religious objectors or to anyone else who feels a religious objection to handling pork):
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act implements a more demanding standard (see the recent Holt v. Hobbs decision), but it has been read as not authorizing damages remedies; and while it does authorize injunctions, here the behavior was unlikely to be repeated (and thus unlikely to need an injunction) because Jones is no longer in prison.

Are halal shares a marketing trick?

Raphie Hayat conducted a research on ‘Islamic finance’ concluding that this is not safer than ‘regular financing’, as is often argued.

  • Question: Is Islamic financing nothing more than a trick to attract Muslims?

Hayat: It is a bit too farfetched to call it a trick. For a company to be called ‘halal’, it has to meet strict requirements. Companies that produce alcohol or pork are excluded for example. And a company’s debt ought not to be higher than 33% of the total balance. And not more than 5% of income should be derived from interest. It is mainly because of this last requirements that shares of many regular banks can never be traded as a ‘halal’ product.

  • Question: There are clear rules. But you do warn for Islamic investment to become a marketing trick.

Hayat: Besides the Financial rules, Islam also requires companies to take into consideration the environment, to have a positive influence on society and good governance. However, these are requirements that are often not met yet. And thus until now, according to my opinion, there is no full ‘seal of quality’.

  • Question: According to the Qur’an, interest is a bad thing. But an Islamic investor does receives efficiency on his shares. Is this an example of ‘special’ Sharia interpretation?

Hayat: I disagree. Interest is forbidden, because it is not dependent upon the profit. Effiency in contrast, ís dependent upon profit. So an investor shares the risk with a company, and this is the essence of the Islamic way of doing business.

  • Question: But religious shares do not withhold the Islamic investor to take excessive risks.

Hayat: this is the responsibility of this person himself.

  • Question: You also write that a small group of Sharia scholars, that are involved in ‘halal’-certificates within Dow Jones Index and FTSE earn around 4.5 million dollar a year.

Hayat: they get paid per certificate. So I have the impression there is a tendency to apply the rules flexible. This is why I propose companies to be judged by an independent institute, for example by a institute from the Netherlands, Sweden or Switzerland.

Halal Food in Germany

June 25, 2014

According to the Central Council of Muslims in Germany the German food industry should make halal food more accessible. Particularly with regard to the month of Ramadan Hamza Wördemann, board member of the Central Council of Muslims, suggested a uniform labeling of Islam-compliant products.

Law aims to boost halal, kosher food for poor

DETROIT — For the first time, the federal government is required to purchase and provide food banks emergency supplies of kosher or halal products, serving a population whose survival could otherwise be at odds with strictures of faith.

The void was first revealed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc on the East Coast in the fall of 2012 and led to food shortages for those most in need.

A Jewish philanthropic organization in New York alerted lawmakers to the rising numbers of people coming to its food banks and often finding shelves devoid of kosher offerings. That led to legislation aimed at boosting emergency supplies for food prepared in accordance with Jewish and Muslim dietary rules, and, after some unsuccessful attempts at passage, the measure was tucked into the sweeping federal farm bill signed into law in February.

Federal agriculture officials now must implement the novel law, which requires them to buy food prepared in accordance with the faiths’ dietary rules but isn’t more expensive than regularly produced food. Then, it must be tracked through the distribution chain and properly labeled to ensure it gets to food bank operators and meets the needs of their clients.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s challenges include gauging the demand and finding vendors that can supply the appropriate amount of food to keep it cost-neutral.

Demand for kosher food is high in the New York metropolitan area, and both the New York and Detroit areas are major centers of halal consumption.

The USDA currently buys some kosher and halal foods but not in an organized, regulated fashion. It’s hard to know how soon the full effort can launch or how successful it will be, but a test run that predates the Farm Bill’s passage is underway.

Halal, shechita and the politics of animal slaughter

March 6, 2014

 

The practice of slaughtering animals by slitting their throats (The traditional practice in Judaism and Islam) and draining the blood in line with religious custom should be adapted to prevent suffering, the leader of Britain’s vets has said. John Blackwell, head of the British Veterinary Association, said animals should be “stunned” before slaughter.

Mr Blackwell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that animals should be “stunned at the time of death”, which would render them “insensible to pain until death supervenes”.

“It’s important at the time of death for the animals’ welfare not to be compromised,” he said, while adding that he “respected the beliefs of religious sects”.

He said that sheep could remain conscious for up to seven seconds after having their throat cut, while for cattle it was two minutes and said there was “good evidence” that showed that animals could perceive pain at the point of having their throats slit, but he conceded that this research was not conclusive.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also disagreed with the views of Mr Blackwell .stating that stopping this type of slaughter would “remove the right of Jewish communities in this country, Muslim communities in this country, to stick to their religious beliefs about how they prepare food and how animals are slaughtered”.

UK legislation allows halal (Muslim) or shechita (Jewish) “non-stun” slaughter as long as it does not cause “unnecessary suffering”. Ritual slaughter is lawful in the UK and the EU to satisfy the dietary requirements of Jews and Muslims.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is a voice for the UK veterinary profession and has over 14,000 members.

Mr Arkush, who is the vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the Jewish slaughtering practice was a “humane act designed to bring about the animals’ end very quickly” and that Mr Blackwell’s comments were “misleading”.

 

BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26463064

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/halal-shechita-politics-animal-slaughter

Distribution of Halal Sandwiches

December 12, 2013

 

TREVISO – Starting soon, vending machine lunch break snacks will also include sandwiches that are certified “halal” for Muslim workers. The products come from Novagest, a small company in Treviso. The “halal” sandwich will be made with turkey meat from turkeys that will be slaughtered according to customs in the Koran.

 

ANSA: http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/regioni/veneto/2013/12/12/Islam-distributore-tramezzini-halal-_9769195.html

La Stampa: http://www.lastampa.it/2013/12/12/italia/cronache/treviso-distributori-automatici-con-tramezzini-per-musulmani-RMt8oRQyB9Lu7WsaHqX6MK/pagina.html