Dr Taj Hargey, imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, said race and religion were inextricably linked to the recent spate of grooming rings in which Muslim men have targeted under-age white girls. Earlier this week seven members of a child sex ring from Oxford were found guilty of forcing underage girls to commit acts of “extreme depravity”. Their victims, aged between 11 and 15, were groomed and plied with alcohol and drugs before being sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution. They targeted “out of control” teenagers. Dr Hargey said that the case brought shame on the city and the community and is a setback for cross community harmony. The activities of the Oxford sex ring are “bound up with religion and race” because all the men – though of different nationalities – were Muslim and they “deliberately targeted vulnerable white girls, whom they appeared to regard as ‘easy meat’, to use one of their revealing, racist phrases”, Dr Hargey said. That attitude has been promoted by religious leaders, he believes. “On one level, most imams in the UK are simply using their puritanical sermons to promote the wearing of the hijab and even the burka among their female adherents. But the dire result can be the brutish misogyny we see in the Oxford sex ring.” To pretend it is not a problem is the Islamic community is “ideological denial”, Dr Hargey said. The men were allowed, he said, to come and go from care homes by the authorities, and if the situation had been reversed with gangs of white men preying on Muslim teenagers”the state’s agencies would have acted with greater alacrity.” True Islam preaches respect for women but in mosques across the country a different doctrine is preached – “one that denigrates all women, but treats whites with particular contempt,” men are taught that women are “second-class citizens, little more than chattels or possessions over whom they have absolute authority,”.
Halal lamb burgers have been withdrawn from a city’s schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork. The decision follows DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited in January, Leicester Council said today. Assistant city mayor Vi Dempster said: “I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat.
All other Halal products used in the council’s kitchens – including 24 city schools – are supplied by another company, the council said and that 19 schools were supplied with the frozen burgers.
The council has written to 6,000 families whose children might have eaten the burgers.
Suleman Nagdi, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), said: “The community will be extremely shocked and distressed to learn of the contamination that has taken place. The FMO is working closely with the local authority and calling on them to take legal action in respect of this contamination and would urge the local authority to instigate criminal proceedings against the company involved under the Food Safety Act.”
In a statement issued today, Paragon Quality Foods said it had “never knowingly bought or handled pork” and it was working with the relevant authorities. “Paragon Quality Foods Ltd is a pork-free site and has never knowingly bought or handled pork and has provided this information to the relevant enforcement authorities.
The decision to remove halal lamb burgers from Leicester schools comes after a number of high-profile meat scandals this year. In February, the Ministry of Justice said it was to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided halal pies and pasties with traces of pork DNA. Then there was the horse meat scandal in January where investigations revealed beef products sold by retailers including lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including Tesco contained were contaminated with horse DNA.
April 11, 2013
The Halal International Authority, the only Italian organization that is a member of the World Halal Food Council, complained that 220 butchers in Milan were falsifying claims of Halal meat. A pool of experts tasked with uncovering issues with Italian butchers preparing Halal, claim that there were traces of pig DNA and other non-Islamic practices of slaughtering the meat.
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.
The recent discovery of horse meat being falsely sold as beef throughout Europe has uncovered another meat scandal which particularly concerns the Muslim communities in Europe. The French Council of the Muslim faith is worried that a Dutch intermediary who was involved in the horse meat scandal has also sold false halal meat to Muslims in France.
The weekly magazine Paris Match reports that the meat salesman was convicted last year for the sale of falsely as halal classified meat between the years of 2007 and 2009, which has also been sold in France. The French Council of Muslim Faith reacted outraged and in shock about the lack of information on such a scandal amongst meat consumers and demands the authorities to publish the names of the companies which have been implicated by the scandal.
In Masjid Annasr’s prayer space on a Saturday afternoon, Zaynab al-Samat is in a minority of one. A slight woman dressed in a pale purple abaya and matching hijab, she is the only Hispanic supplicant at this roomy northwest Bronx mosque that almost exclusively serves a local West African population.
Al-Samat, a native of the Dominican Republic, converted to Islam in 2010 after a long period of faith exploration as she became increasingly dissatisfied with the Catholic Church. Now, she says she has found a welcoming home here at Masjid Annasr, one of several West African mosques in Morris Heights, a majority-Hispanic area increasingly dotted with Ghanaian groceries offering Halal cuts of goat meat.
Still, al-Samat says that she hopes to eventually pray at a Latino mosque, a niche that doesn’t exist here in the Bronx. Though she is deeply involved at Masjid Annasr, managing religious classes for children and painting henna on holidays, what she lacks here is a Latino Muslim community in which to weave together her Latino culture and a faith that some Hispanics “think is for Arabs only,” she said.
Aisha Ahmed Hernandez is the founder of the Latin American Muslim Women’s Association, a south Bronx-based organization established in 2007. The group fields telephone calls from Latino Muslims looking for Islamic answers to their problems, be it turbulent marriages or troubled faith.
Hernandez also created a Facebook group, called “Muslims Who Speak Spanish,” that now counts almost 500 members, not all of whom live in New York. She established the group to get a sense of just how large the Latino Muslim population is and said she was surprised by the huge response.
Encouraged, she says she hopes that her still small-scale effort will blossom — drawing together a community in which Latino converts can negotiate a common identity and support each other through a conversion process that can roil family members.
In the meantime, Hernandez says she straddles two cultures. A frequenter of mostly African mosques like the one in which she converted more than 20 years ago, she still celebrates Catholic holidays with her Puerto Rican friends and family, she said.
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.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The maker of a popular brand of food for observant Muslims says it is facing a potentially crippling investigation into whether it falsely labeled meat products as processed in compliance with Islamic law.
The Midamar Corp. said in federal court documents that investigators seized its main bank account and business records under search warrants executed last month. A judge last week upheld the government’s seizure of $454,000 in bank funds and rejected the company’s request to return the money.
No criminal or civil charges have been filed, and U.S. District Judge Linda Reade ruled that the government’s affidavit supporting its search warrant can remain secret so as not to “compromise an ongoing investigation.” The U.S. attorney’s office declined comment Monday on the investigation, which involves the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Internal Revenue Service.
Miramar said in court filings that the seizures relate to vague allegations that it improperly branded and sold meat products as meeting Muslim dietary requirements, called halal, when they did not. The privately held business, which has been in Cedar Rapids for 40 years, dismissed the allegations. And it claims federal investigators are trying to regulate something that must be left to religions under the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state.
Midamar says the matter does not involve food safety. Still, its lawyers made public a letter from USDA that noted the agency stopped voluntary inspections at the firm in 2010, after seizing what it called misbranded meat products, before resuming them last year. Such inspections are done at Midamar’s request to ensure their products meet requirements for export.
Investigators seized thousands of pounds of beef products that came from an establishment not approved for export to a foreign country and found falsified export documents for shipments to Indonesia and Malaysia, among other problems, according to the letter.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service resumed inspections after approving Midamar’s “corrective and preventive measures,” the letter says.
News agencies – September 26, 2012
For months, Bahar Ebrahimi had been rebelling against her parents, complaining their Afghan culture and Muslim religion were suffocating her. It was June 2010, Grand Prix weekend in downtown Montreal, and on two straight nights the 19-year-old stayed out past dawn against her parents’ wishes. For her mother, Johra Kaleki, the behaviour confirmed that all her efforts to steer her eldest daughter on the right path had failed. “I felt like she would never be fixed,” she told Sgt.-Det. Alexandre Bertrand in an interrogation video played in Quebec Court. As her crying husband spoke to Bahar in the basement of their Dorval home, Ms. Kaleki went upstairs and grabbed a large knife from the kitchen counter, the one she used to chop meat, she recounted. Bahar survived the attack, suffering serious knife wounds to her head and shoulder. Ms. Kaleki, 40, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and illegal use of a weapon.
The hearing this week before Judge Yves Paradis is to determine whether the video and other statements made by Ms. Kaleki can be entered into evidence during the trial, which is scheduled to begin in January 2013.
LOS ANGELES — Sebastian Flores walked out of Al Salam Pollería with a free bag of white-feathered chicken heads.
Mr. Flores, 26, an immigrant and a regular customer of Al Salam, a Muslim, family-owned halal poultry shop, was driving home when he developed a craving for the treat. He was planning on sprinkling the chicken heads with poultry seasoning and roasting them in the oven, the way they did back home in Puebla, Mexico.
Customers like Mr. Flores are the lifeblood of Al Salam Pollería, a thriving shop that opened 28 years ago “by accident,” according to its founders. Abdul Elhawary and his brother-in-law, Safwat Elrabat, who died 12 years ago, opened the shop in East Los Angeles because the zoning there allowed the sale and on-site slaughter of live poultry, in accordance with their religion’s dietary requirements.
Animals must be killed according to Islamic law for their meat to be halal, a practice followed at the store only when a customer requests halal meat.
“Around 1989, when we found out that 90 percent of the customers are Latino and we only had 10 percent that are non-Latino, we changed the name in the business cards to Al Salam Pollería,” Mr. Elhawary said. Originally, it had been Al Salam Farms; “salaam” means peace in Arabic and “pollería” is poultry shop in Spanish.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Latinos and Muslims had many things in common.
Adrian Pantoja, a professor of politics and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said the family showcased the ways some of the city’s ethnic entrepreneurs had learned to adapt.
Mr. Flores, the customer with his bag of chicken heads, said he was a regular patron, and not just because of the quality of the food.
“Here they treat you well and they speak Spanish,” Mr. Flores said. “It’s good that they are willing to learn from another culture.”