It looks as if the Mail on Sunday will be running another anti-Muslim story tomorrow to follow on from the typically nasty scaremongering story (pictured above) they ran on their front page last week about the increasing availability of halal meat in the UK. Noting that institutions such as Wembley Stadium, various hospitals and restaurant groups were now selling halal meat the Mail on Sunday last week criticised them for not telling their consumers that the meat was halal.
Given the MoS’s long history of bigoted reporting of minority communities, one can’t help but think that its outrage was less about the failure to label the meat as halal and more to do with trying to stoke up public anger about the alleged ‘Islamification’ (a favourite BNP term) of Britain.
Of course, the more plausible reason that large outlets are now purchasing halal is for business purposes. It makes better financial sense for the larger outlets to make fewer but larger orders from suppliers than to make multiple but smaller purchase orders. Given that situation, larger retailers are choosing to purchase halal to save on the costs that would be incurred if they purchased from multiple meat sources.
Anyway, earlier today I got a call from an MoS reporter who asked me whether I thought that the large retailers should be clearly labelling their food as halal if it was sourced from halal slaughterhouses. I emailed him the following quote:
“Supermarkets should not be afraid of labelling their products as Halal. Consumers – despite risible tabloid scare antics – are quite capable of appreciating that in a globalised world meat is sourced from many different quarters and that halal meat tastes just the same as non-halal meat. It is just that with halal meat the method of slaughter is with a sharp knife instead of a gun and that the name of God is recited over the animal in order to give thanks to God for providing us with food.”
Somehow I doubt that my quote – if it appears in tomorrow’s paper - will be printed in full, particularly that bit about ‘risible tabloid scare antics’. But, maybe I am being too cynical. We’ll find out shortly.
I know it is not a very scientific way of establishing anything, but near where I live, we have a thriving Muslim-owned takeway that attracts plenty of non-Muslim customers. They seem to have no problem with eating halal meat. I am fairly sure it is the same right across the country. So, I think the main reason that the major supermarkets have thus far resisted labelling food as halal – except in areas with large Muslim communities – is that they are concerned with how right-wing tabloids would try and exploit that to incite mischief. Judging from the provocative antics of the MoS, their concerns would not be entirely without foundation.
Update: As I predicted, the MoS did not use my quote in full but truncated it to remove my criticism of tabloids!