Paris Attacks: 10,000 troops deployed as France hunts for accomplices

Following the deadly attack at Charlie Hebdo and hostage-taking at a kosher market in Paris, the government is deploying 10,000 troops throughout France and sending 5,000 police to protect Jewish sites. Authorities continue to search for the accomplices to both attacks. Prime Minister Manuel Valls believes that the gunman who killed a policewoman and four other people after taking a customers in a kosher store hostage had an accomplice. He stated that “the threat is still present” after the attacks and that “the work on these attacks, on these terrorist and barbaric acts continues…because we consider that there are most probably some possible accomplices.”

Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian affirmed that troops would guard any sensitive locations. Following a national security crisis meeting he stated: “We have decided…to mobilize 10,000 men to protect sensitive sites throughout the country starting tomorrow [Tuesday] evening. This is the first time our troops have mobilized to such an extent on our own soil. The threats remain and we have to protect ourselves from them. It is an internal operation that will mobilize almost as many men as we have in our overseas operations.”

In response to the public’s fear seven hundred police officers are guarding 717 Jewish schools throughout the country. There are already 4,100 gendarmes deployed.

It is not known how many accomplices French authorities are searching for, but it is believed that Coulibaly’s partner Hayat Boumeddienne has fled to Syria. The security meeting was held after the video of Coulibaly declaring his allegiance to ISIL was released on the Internet. In the video Coulibaly states that he collaborated with the Kouachi brothers.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that he would travel to Paris for talks on countering violent extremism. His statement followed criticism of the Obama administration for not sending anyone to attend the rally that drew between 1.5 and 2 million people. Marchers carried pencils, pens and placards that read “Nous sommes la République” and “Je suis Muslim.” The march was led by the victims’ families and a group of 50 world leaders including President Hollande, Angela Merkel and Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.

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.

Who should regulate kosher and halal food?

Food and religion–A meaty question?

KEEPING the government’s nose out of anything with a religious whiff is one of America’s founding principles. With this in mind on January 31st a federal district judge in Minnesota dismissed a lawsuit contending that Hebrew National, a big American meat-products brand, fraudulently labelled its hot dogs “100% kosher”. Critics had claimed that the meat used did not meet kosher requirements. The judge, however, ruled that since kosher is a standard “intrinsically religious in nature”, under the first amendment it was none of the court’s business. Triangle K, the certifying body that gave the wieners the kosher seal of approval, and its Orthodox rabbis, would have to rebut the critics themselves. Unhappy customers could always shop elsewhere.

Few Western countries have laws explicitly regulating kosher or halal products—chiefly meat produced by the ritual slaughter of animals, subject to particular standards of health or hygiene. Governments prefer to rely on private companies and market forces to do the job.

America has been battling with this issue for decades. Of its 50 states, 22 have introduced kosher-fraud laws over the past century. Anxious about the industry’s rampant corruption (half of all “kosher” food was not), price-fixing and bitter rivalries (including drive-by shootings in poultry markets), New York started the trend in 1915 with a bill saying that food labelled fit for Jews must comply with “orthodox Hebrew religious requirements”. But in the past 20 years courts in Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have deemed such laws unconstitutional. New Jersey firms must merely produce documentary proof that their products are kosher.

Still, Jews are more united than Muslims about the exact nature of their religion’s dietary rules. Jewish law leaves no doubt that stunning animals before slaughter is prohibited. Muslims disagree about that. Hundreds of halal-certification bodies operate, with varying standards and logos. They differ in their methods of slaughter.

The importance of the halal label spreads well beyond food. Many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims want reassurances that medicines and make-up, for example, are free from animal products or alcohol. Websites are abuzz with the news of a halal nail varnish produced in Poland. Just don’t test it on animals.

Dutch Parliament Votes to Ban Ritual Slaughter

28 June 2011

The Dutch parliament voted in favour of banning kosher and halal slaughter of animals, following debate which saw considerable resistance from Jewish and Muslim communities. The ban contains an exception such that groups able to prove that animals do not suffer comparatively more during ritual slaughter than standard methods will be permitted to continue with halal and kosher methods. While several MPs voed against the ban on religious grounds, it passed in parliament 116 to 30. The story received considerable coverage internationally.

French Politicians Amara and Duflot respond to the quick halal controversy

In the wake of the Quick fast-food chain’s decision to offer halal meat products, French politicians Fadela Amara and Cécile Duflot weigh in that the complaints against the possibility are excessive. Amara explained that because as a private business Quick does not offer public services they should be able to sell whatever they please. The consumer can choose. The real problem, she added, is that “elites in this country don’t accept its diversity . . . secularism is respecting the practices of one another.” Duflot warned of Islamophobia: “No one is chocked that there’s a kosher Franprix [grocery store].”

Le Figaro points to a report on halal meats (see reports section of Euro-Islam website) which claims that 32 percent of meat prepared in French abattoirs is halal or kosher, and is sometimes sold as non-halal.

Muslim Menu runs into high-speed trouble in Spain

Spanish state controlled RENFE railways have attempted to produce special menus for Muslims, but have failed in this mission, according to the standards proposed by the Halal Institute of the Islamic Junta in Spain. The organization has said that all the train company did, was remove alcohol and pork, but not control other matters of food preparation including how animals are sacrificed, and fats used in cooking. RENFE denies the criticism, saying that the _Muslim Menu’ meets requirements established in the Quran. In addition to the halal menu, the rail system also launched special menus available on high speed routes, to accommodate vegetarian, diabetic, kosher, and low-salt food.

Halal, Kosher Slaughter Unacceptable, say German Vets

Muslim and Jewish groups are angered by a call from Germany’s federal chamber of veterinarians for a law re-establishing protection against slaughter without stunning. Germany’s main Jewish group rejected Wednesday, July 10, the latest criticism of kosher slaughter practices, and was immediately backed by a Turkish group in Germany speaking on behalf of Muslims. Both Islam and Judaism reject the stunning of animals before slaughter and prescribe that animals be killed by a swift throat cut. Speaking on Germany’s main public broadcaster ARD, Ernst Breitling, president of Germany’s federal chamber of veterinarians had earlier called kosher and halal slaughter “cruelty to animals.” The body has demanded a change in German law to end an exemption for minority butchers which he said had allowed 500,000 sheep to be slaughtered annually in this way.

Where the Meat Meets Muslim Standard

There’s just one place in North America where an observant Muslim can follow Jared’s diet, the two-sandwich-a-day plan that helped Subway pitchman Jared Fogel lose 245 pounds. The Subway restaurant that adheres to Islamic restrictions is off Route 27 in Iselin. The eatery is indiscernible from other Subways except for a neon green sign in the window spelling out “halal,” the Islamic equivalent of kosher.

US Muslims fight halal meat scam. Some stores sell meat that is falsely labelled as Halal

Of the many ways Musa Abdus Salaam could break the tenets of his Muslim faith, eating a cheeseburger might seem the least threatening. But one year ago, not long after he and his family dined on beef he purchased from a shop in Norfolk, Virginia, Abdus-Salaam learned they had unwittingly violated the Quran: His investigation revealed the store’s meat was not halal. “It is a major sin in our religion,” Abdus-Salaam said. Halal is the Muslim equivalent of kosher, a method of slaughtering, blessing and preparing food to purify it. Believers are willing to pay a premium for halal, and across the US, states and localities are targeting unscrupulous dealers who prey on their dietary devotion. The state of Virginia, home to 350,000 Muslims, is weighing three proposals. One would make selling halal knockoffs a misdemeanour punishable by up to $500 in fines. “In my research, I realised that Virginia does not have a programme to certify kosher or other religious foods,” said Kenneth Alexander, a state legislator who sponsored the bill at his constituents’ request. Fines or jail Other legislation would force vendors to offer certification information and a toll-free number or website for confirmation of halal and kosher foods. Violators could face up to six months in jail and $1000 in fines. The bills are pending in legislative committees. Last summer, New York enacted a law requiring halal food distributors to register with the state. Pending legislation would fine vendors caught possessing mislabelled halal items. Similar codes are on the books in a handful of states, including California, Illinois and Michigan, despite the misgivings of some who maintain that state governments should not be policing religious laws. In Virginia, growing communities are bringing Muslim needs to the forefront, said Imad Damaj, president of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs. Growing numbers He pointed to a 1994 survey that found 11 mosques between Richmond and northern Virginia. “Now there’s no less than 45,” he said, adding that the 9-11 attacks highlighted the American Muslim presence. “Now the community is more higher profile and more under the microscope, too.” Halal foods are vital for the expanding group. Halal means lawful and applies to anything from lunch meat to potato chips, depending on things such as additives and what something’s cooked in. Seafood is automatically halal while pork automatically is not. Other meats undergo a complex procedure. The Muslim population in the US is increasing Generally, the butcher must invoke the name of Allah while cutting the live animal’s neck; once the blood has drained and the animal’s heart stops, Abdus Salaam said, it is halal. Years ago, he was among many residents who travelled as far as Philadelphia to find properly prepared cuisine. Now halal foods – and their lookalikes – are popping up in grocery store meat cases, on carryout menus and in fast food drive-throughs. Difficult to decipher Scams have become common. Some vendors will blend regular meat with a little halal meat to justify Muslim-friendly labels and higher prices. Others simply lie, preying on Muslims’ trust and devotion, said Habib Ghanim Sr, president of the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not like Third World countries, where you can just slaughter a lamb in your back yard and feed the family,” he said, pointing out that halal meat has no special smell or appearance. “You wouldn’t know the difference.” His group is one of several sniffing out fakers. They ask questions such as which supplier one uses – guaranteed to trip up vendors unfamiliar with the tight-knit community of halal butchers and slaughterhouses. Sometimes it pays off. In 1997, authorities fined Springfield’s Washington Lamb Inc $10,000 after they found that the company was falsely claiming its products were halal. Federal agriculture officials can pursue litigation against a company for misbranding a product, considered a violation of the federal meat inspection act. Tricky laws “It’s not like Third World countries, where you can just slaughter a lamb in your back yard and feed the family. You wouldn’t know the difference” Habib Ghanim Sr President, USA Halal Chamber of Commerce But creating laws could put state governments in the touchy position of interpreting religious rules, said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He argued that it is up to community members to confront vendors. “That seems to me vastly more powerful an instrument than going and expecting some young district attorney to understand the complexities of this,” he said. Yet, without legal repercussions, proponents argue, it is impossible to ensure phony vendors would not resume business. That troubles Abdus-Salaam. His faith mandates that he ask forgiveness for eating non-halal food and promise never to do it again – a tough proposition with shady vendors pushing phony foods. The regional administrator with the Islamic Political Party of America is promoting Alexander’s law. “In our religion, if we see a wrong, we have to right that wrong,” he said. “We can’t just stand around and wish for it to go away.”