Tag Archives: Francois Fillon

Halal meat: a hot-button issue of presidentail campaign

9 Mar

National Front leader Martine Le Pen launched the debate in February.  In her speech in Lille, the Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said “all the abattoirs in Ile-de-France sell halal”, meat slaughtered the “Muslim way”, adding  that this was being done unknown by the consumer.

Although it turned out the slaugherhouses mostly supplied local Muslim butchers and most meat sold in Paris came from further away, the halal meat is on the campaign menu of almost every presidential candidate.

With the French Prime Minister François Fillon saying recently that  “Religions should rethink about keeping traditions that don’t have much in common with today’s state of science, technology and health problems,”  to Europe1 radio, it seems that halal is the meat that feeds this presidential campaign.

But what is really Halal? 

Photo credit: Mikael Colville-Andersen

Halal in Arabic means „permissible“. In the terms of food, it would mean that the food is permissible to Islamic law. The following can’t be consumed: pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly, blood and blood by products, alcohol carnivorous animals, birds of prey, land animals without external ears. Halal certification is an assurance that a product has been thoroughly vetted and found to conform with Islamic Dietary Laws.  In France main Halal certifying agency are The Grande Mosque of Paris and the Mosque of Evry.

How is halal meat different from “ordinary meat”?

Halal meat means that the animal is slaughtered properly. That means that Allah’s name must be pronounced during slaughter, the instrument has to be very sharp severing the windpipe, jugular vein and carotid artery (slit at the throat, while its head is pointed in direction of Mecca). The animal must be hung upside down in order to bleed dry because blood is not halal. This kind of slaughter is accomplished by a Muslim or by the “People of the Book” (Christian or Jew). Many observers find kosher meat, that  acceptable.   Non-religious butchers on the contrary stun the animal first, saying this lessens pain.

Why Muslims don’t eat pork?

Pork belongs to the category of Haraam, an Arabic term meaning “forbidden”. In Islam it is used to refer to anything that is prohibited by the word of Allah. It is the Qu’ran which draws the distinction between the Haraam and Halal food, and the swine is believed not to be clean, thus Haraam. Furthermore, a swine cannot be slaughtered at the neck due to its anatomy (see Halal slaughetring).