Is promoting halal really promoting tolerance? – Vickie Janson
Australian Christians’ federal policies include calls for greater freedom and less tax, and support for real cultural tolerance of a reciprocal nature. This Australian desire for a level playing field, or a ‘fair go,’ may make it hard for some to understand the Aussie ire raised over the Qantas decision to provide only halal, or sharia compliant, food, on their Dubai flights. In the name of tolerance and diversity, it’s now halal for everyone. But you don’t have to travel to Dubai to miss out on bacon bits. Although KFC advertises bacon burgers, you may be disappointed if you travel to Melbourne’s Fawkner branch, where once again it’s halal only for everyone.
Qantas reports this news has resulted in their facebook page being bombarded with ‘racist and religiously offensive’ comments. Yet few really understand why halal certification is offensive to so many. The Baw Baw Shire Council may be about to find out. Their noble efforts to assist economic growth in the region have led to a full-scale council promotion of extending local halal (Islamically permissible) markets. So what is fueling this apparent intolerance to accepting halal for everyone?
Halal slaughter requires male Muslim only slaughtermen, who must face Mecca while the Islamic creed is recited over the animal during slaughter. Of course Mecca is a ‘halal’ city where non-Muslims are not permitted at all and many people feel this is not the direction Australia should therefore be facing.
The Baw Baw Council has included a beginner’s guide to halal on their website, produced by Bahrain-based AMJ Projects. It tells us Muslims are ‘obliged to follow sharia law’ and that halal products are compulsory for Muslims. Having rate-payers fund Islamic obligations to follow sharia law through local government is a genuine concern. Additionally, the legitimacy of this statement may be disputed theologically. Quran 5:5 permits Muslims to eat the food of Christians and Jews.
Most Australians do believe in a ‘fair go’ and don’t have a problem with Muslims accessing halal food for themselves. However, many do have a problem with halal being compulsory for everyone else. This is where the Kosher system differs, as it is ‘user-pays’. Jewish people pay a premium for their special diet. But with everything from meat to glucaid, medicine, honey and make-up now halal, the cost of halal certification acts as a religious tax imposed on all Australians. Vegemite is halal and Kraft is not offering a non-halal option for die-hard lovers of vegemite.
The removal of choice is one reason some are angry, but there are others. One little known fact is that there was no halal certification as such for 1300 years. This new innovation of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with the promotion of sharia finance to ensure the whole business of funding, production and distribution is ‘halal’, has become a global market estimated to be upwards of $1.2 trillion. The Muslim Brotherhood promoted the halal industry as a ‘financial jihad’ against the West. Some Australians may find that offensive.
Statements from various Islamic leaders confirming this are not helpful.
The Grand Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovina declared at a world halal conference in Karachi in 2010 that the halal industry was all about dominating the world economy. You may ask, what’s wrong with a western democracy supporting the ascension of political, economic, social, and religious Islam? Some find this difficult to express and hence the anger on the Qantas facebook page and possibility of the same for the Baw Baw council.
Australian Christians believes that many Australians feel ‘sold out’ by Australia’s compliance to sharia laws. Some see a ‘halal only’ KFC in Australia as a mini Mecca where non-Muslims are not catered for and not welcome. Including bacon and halal products on the menu would represent real tolerance rather than a complete sellout.
Many non-Muslim refugees who have come to Australia following persecution as minorities in Muslim majority countries are watching with disbelief as we promote sharia laws as ethical and opportune, and insist in our schools on appreciation of Islam; appreciation being another dictate of sharia compliance.
The concept of halal is much bigger than vegemite. There is genocide in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan by people who want a ‘halal’ or sharia compliant state and reports by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom state that ‘in our lifetime…Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt’, thus creating this reality there.
We have to take more seriously whether local, state and federal governments should be promoting the expansion of Islamic markets. When we see lands laundered of non-halal people; sharia finance laundering to cleanse money from defilement by contact with non-halal organizations; food laundered from defilement by non-halal products or people; we should be seeing a bigger picture rather than pulling the ‘racism’ card on frustrated Australians. By Australian standards, sharia laws that legally discriminate against non-Muslims and women are racist; opposing them should not be. It should be a democratic and responsible option.
There are 17 certification bodies like the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) in Australia which all add costs, effectively a religious tax, for delivery of halal certified goods to consumers. There are capital costs and ongoing costs; the aligning of killing floors in slaughterhouses to face Mecca; there are costs in adding prayer rooms on site, the cost of certification itself and the ongoing cost of regular inspections. One new halal certification label can cost up to $10K. But the real cost in social terms may be much greater.