Nick Cohen’s at it again …

We all know Nick Cohen as the opponent of the anti-war marches, who constantly alleged that the Stop the War coalition was an alliance of Marxists and religious reactionaries. Today in the New Statesman he calls for the government to ban ritual slaughter, because it’s cruel, so he says. (It doesn’t seem to be in the online edition.) He brings out government evidence that the animal feels pain and distress for the minute or so before it dies. Islam has always prohibited cruelty to animals and two things we are not supposed to do when slaughtering animals is sharpen the knife in front of an animal, or slaughter one animal in front of another. We are also not allowed to simply behead an animal (other than a chicken, and even that is offensive). In a part of the world notorious for its cruelty to animals, singling out ritual slaughter is serious hypocrisy: he compares it to fox hunting, claiming that “Britain is a country obsessed with class hatreds but wary of the power of religion”. Excuse me, but there are a whole host of differences. We slaugher farm animals for food, not for fun, and it takes seconds, not hours. On top of that, if you use a knife you will only kill the animal you are slaughtering. Fox hunts have been known to kill cats who got in the way of the hunt.

This from someone who criticised George Galloway during the recent elections for opposing abortion, and claims the Labour governments of the 1960s “set people free” by legalising it (along with homosexuality). He introduces the straw man of the distress this procedure supposedly causes to calves, ignoring the fact that Muslims do not eat all that much veal. And it’s not us that keep these animals in crates just to keep their meat white.

The fact is, banning ritual slaughter will benefit no-one. The Muslims who will not eat meat from animals who were stunned before slaughter (because, for example, they have heard that “stunning” actually involves shooting the animal with a bolt in the head, not an electric shock) will not start - they may, for example, eat fish instead. Is it pleasant for a fish to be dragged out of water? Do we want to put even more strain on our fish stocks? A large number of restaurants will be closed, resulting in lost livelihoods, and possibly the farms which produced the meat may go out of business. I can’t honestly see why some people are so much more concerned about farm animals than about people - perhaps it is simply because of their anti-religious sympathies.

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