23rd February 2006
Radical Muslims Target UK Slaughterhouses
Shia and Sunni divisions hit UK as Taliban fundamentalists target animal slaughter
A state veterinary officer has blown the whistle on a radical new Islamic group which is demanding that UK slaughterhouses change the way they kill animals for Halal meat. He has told the animal group Viva! that animals killed only by a Sunni Muslim, and who are fully conscious when their throats are cut, are acceptable to the group, which calls itself the Halal Monitoring Committtee (HMC). Some British slaughterhouses have already fallen into line. This rejection of Shias as genuine Muslims is the basis of the religious strife in Iraq.
The Leicester-based official veterinary surgeon (OVS), who fears for his safety and wishes to remain anonymous, says: ?The HMC is putting pressure on local butchers to buy only the meat they approve and are then charging them as much as ?500 to display their authorisation. They also charge restaurants and slaughterhouses so there is a strong financial incentive in all this as well as a religious motivation?.
The HMC admits that it charges slaughterhouses and meat processors up to ?250 per month in return for its authorisation.
Until the appearance of the HMC, all official Halal slaughter was overseen and approved by the Halal Food Authority, which supports the stunning of animals before their throats are cut. It also sanctions meat killed by both Sunnis and Shias. The HMC now declares that none of this meat reaches its standards and refuses to approve it ? effectively outlawing most available Halal meat as ?Haram? ? unclean.
While it claims to adhere to no particular branch of Islam, the HMC insists that only animals slaughter by a Sunni Muslim can be considered Halal*. The denial that Shia and other Islamic sects are genuine Muslims stems from the extreme Saudi Arabian Wahhabi sect, which also produced the Taliban and Al Quaeda. It is driven by the desire to impose Sharia law everywhere, including the UK.
It believes that changes to the Muslim faith since c.950 are unacceptable and these ?innovations, superstitions, deviances, heresies and idolatries? have to be driven out. In the past, Saudi Arabian Wahhabis have launched holy war (jihad) against all other forms of Islam. These divisions are now reappearing in Iraq with the bombing of Shia mosques by fundamentalist Sunnis and in Britain also, it would appear.
Masood Khawaja, President of Halal Food Authority, says: ?What the HMC wants to do is take us back to the 15th century. I have heard allegations of intimidation and it is disgraceful. We have reported it to Defra (Department of Food and Rural Affairs) and they have asked us to provide proof but people are afraid to speak out. Allowing only Sunni slaughterers and their other extremist actions are bound to create divisions within Islam in the UK.?
Although based in Leicester, the HMC?s influence is now beginning to spread across the UK. Two large abattoirs have turned their backs on the official Halal authority and now cut the throats of fully conscious animals and display the HMC?s authorisation. They are Forest Farm Meats Ltd., of Milton Keynes and Cig Mon Cymru Ltd., of Anglesey, one of Wales?s biggest slaughterers. Both claim their decision was a result of public demand. Many smaller slaughterers have also signed up.
The HMC is linked to the French AVS organisation, one of an endless string of unauthorised bodies claiming to be the only one offering genuine Halal authorisation. Again, hefty fees are involved and French Interior Ministry officials describe the free-for-all as ?a racket?. It is reported that these bodies threaten prospective clients that if they don?t subscribe to a particular Halal certification, their customers will be told that their meat is ?Haram? ? much the same is beginning to happen here.
The Leicester vet, who oversees the slaughter of food animals, claims that lack of stunning is inherently cruel and causes unnecessary suffering. But he has other objections: ?It?s mostly sheep, lambs and goats that I?ve witnessed being killed. Often they?re not held down for the required 20 seconds after cutting and are dumped on the floor or conveyors and you can see them struggling to stand. There?s no consistency and while some slaughterers are careful and use sharp knives, others are dreadful - barbaric - and just hack away with blunt knives.?
Viva! has campaigned for years against religious ritual slaughter. Campaigner Tom Lane says: ?The Government accepts that respect for other people?s cultures should not extend to sacrificing our hard-fought for human rights. But animal rights, it seems, simply don?t matter. Their cowardice over this issue is worrying because human and animal rights are intricately linked and by sacrificing one, you risk the other. Britain?s animals should not become the victims in a battleground created by religious extremists.?
Earlier this year, the Government rejected a demand by its own advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), to outlaw the throat cutting of conscious animals for the Muslim and Jewish faiths. FAWC described it as ?unacceptable? and recommended a ban. It said: ?Such a massive injury would result in significant pain and distress.?
For further information contact Tony Wardle on 0117 944 1000
* Website: general information
http://www.halalmc.co.uk/ 70 Baggrave Street, Leicester LE5 3QS. Tel: 0870 240 7267
http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/, Tel: 020 8563 1994. President Masood Khawaja.
Cig Mon Cymru Ltd. (Poprietor Owen Owen), Trading Estate, Langefni, Anglesaey LL77 7JA. Tel: 01248 750212
Forest Farm Meats Ltd. (Proprietor Roger Carr), Forest Farm Abattoir, Forest Rd, Hanslope, Milton Keynes MK19 7DE. Tel: 01908 511295.
80 per cent of UK Muslims are Sunni with Shias making up about 9 per cent.