Let them eat halaal meat

Yesterday the Daily Star (the Black Hole to you and me), a London tabloid from the same pig-sty as the Daily Express (AKA Daily Spew), ran a story about the “scandal” of the borough of Harrow in north-west London serving up halaal meat in all but one of its ten secondary schools, and from the coming September, all of them. As I remember hearing, the borough protested that the matter was actually decided at each school, not in the education department, but as with the “Muslims get swimming pool blacked out” story that turned out to have been a huge distortion, this was presented as some sort of scandal in which council jobsworths imposed Muslim values on everyone.

I can’t imagine that the number of people complaining is that high. The majority of people will eat halaal meat, kosher meat or anything else; religious Muslims (of which there are quite a few in that part of London) will eat only halaal or kosher, so it makes sense to serve one or the other as most people will eat it. Go to any halaal Indian (or any other) restaurant and you will always find a fair proportion of people who aren’t obviously Muslim (not that everyone who isn’t obviously Muslim isn’t actually Muslim, but all the same, most non-Muslims don’t mind eating halaal meat). But this story is one that has bubbled under the surface for years, occasionally surfacing in letters to various newspapers.

One common objection is the so-called cruelty inherent in halaal slaughter. But a lot of such slaughtering does involve animals that are stunned first, and the method is more or less the same — the animal’s throat gets cut and it bleeds to death. The only difference is that a blessing is said over the animal which translates as “in the name of God; God is most great”. For anyone of no religion, this would not be an issue; I can’t imagine why a Christian would be bothered by it either. I don’t believe they’d object if the blessing was said by a Jewish slaughterman.

The BBC’s version of this story actually states that the halaal meat scheme is optional, that there are also vegetarian and fish-based options, and that the schools themselves can choose whether to use the Harrison catering firm which only serves halaal meat; so far, two out of 52 have done. So no children are being forced to eat halaal meat; it’s just that those who have an objection to eating it get a non-meat option, which presumably is no less nutritious, and their parents can serve them meat at home or at weekends. As someone who only eats red meat that frequently, I can’t say the diet has done me that much harm.

Tabloid Watch has done one of its usual exposé jobs on the story, alongside some of the “immigrants take all our jobs” stories which are their stock in trade. Not surprisingly, Vanessa Feltz used this story as the basis for Friday’s phone-in; the fact that anti-Muslim scare stories sourced from this country’s most disreputable newspapers so routinely end up on her shows gives some idea of her agenda.

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