The statement below has been taken from the website of a body calling itself the Association of Non Stun Abattoirs (ANSA):
ANSA (Association of Non Stun Abattoirs) was formed to represent the voice of the halal meat industry. The association aims to create and raise awareness of the halal industry according to the teachings of the Quran and the prophetic tradition.
The ANSA logo will give the consumers assurance that the meat they will be consuming is truly halal and is ritually halal slaughtered according to Islamic principles.
From ANSA’s mission statement, one could be excused for thinking that it is an organisation based in Pakistan, but sadly, this is not the case, for it is based here in the UK.
Many of us eat meat, and many do not, but even for those of us who do, it would seem perverse if anyone were to suggest that we should do anything other than minimise the suffering and distress of animals in the slaughter process; it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the most humane slaughter methods available are employed. Animal welfare standards in the UK are generally of a high standard, considerably higher than in many EU countries, which can at times place our farmers at a competitive disadvantage; however, this piece is not going to argue for a reduction in these standards, but rather to defend them, and to outline the case for ensuring that there are no exemptions from their application.
There may, given the specific historical, geographical and climatic contexts in which halal and kosher slaughter arose, have been some original rational basis to the dietary taboos of the religious ideologies that demand such practices, but that basis has long since gone: there is no rational reason why either Muslims or Jews should object to the stunning of livestock before slaughter. Only individuals of a literalistic scriptural bent within either of these religious traditions, or out-and-out sadists, could surely maintain that superfluous pain and distress should be inflicted upon an animal, simply to satisfy the arbitrary demands of ‘authoritative’ texts irrelevant to contemporary realities.
A basic principle of law in a modern state is that it should be applicable equally to all of its citizens, with no individuals or groups being accorded special rights or exemptions. The principle of “one law for all” is a sound one, and when it comes to questions of animal welfare, it should not be the case that livestock consumed by literalist doctrinaire Muslims or Jews should be afforded lesser protection than those consumed by everyone else. To the animals, it matters not what set of beliefs the slaughterman holds, but that their deaths be as swift and as devoid of suffering as possible. It is not the feelings of the religious that should be taken into account, but those of the animals destined for the table, for in their deaths, the latter suffer rather more distress than the inflexible dogmatists would suffer in being denied the right to practice their rites.
A chance to change the law with respect to religious slaughter comes our way in the near future, for the National Secular Society (NSS) notes that the current EU Welfare at Slaughter Directive 93/110 is due to be replaced in January next year. Although the new Regulation 1099/2009 will allow for exemptions for religious slaughter to continue, it also offers the opportunity to end them. The NSS is thus urging people who oppose this practice to write to their MPs in an effort to have their opinions taken into account in the Westminster consultation exercise that will take place in the coming months. NSS blog contributor Stephen Evans has written an interesting piece about this, linking it to ANSA’s recent campaign involving incorrectly labelled ‘halal’ meat in Birmingham. ANSA of course, was not outraged by the fact that halal meat is routinely sold unlabelled to unsuspecting non-Muslims, but by instances in which pre-stunned meat was labelled as ‘halal’. ANSA, clearly, is a deeply reactionary Islamist outfit as can be seen from its website, that is intent upon campaigning for increased cruelty in animal slaughter.
What hope do we have of the law being changed so as to be both consonant with animal welfare and the principle of “one law for all”? Judging by recent experience, the prospects do not look overly hopeful. Earlier this year for example, Shipley MP Philip Davies sought to introduce a ‘Food Labelling (Halal and Kosher Meat) Bill’, but it was blocked by 73 votes to 70. The bill in itself was highly moderate, for it did not propose a ban upon either halal or kosher slaughter, but merely that meat produced using these methods should be clearly labelled as such, so that those of us who object to these slaughter techniques could avoid it. Nonetheless, the majority of MPs could not even be bothered to vote either way with respect to this perfectly reasonable suggestion, and the bill was defeated. MP Gerald Kaufman should be ashamed of his key role in sabotaging Davies’s bill, for it would have in no way infringed upon his ability to purchase kosher meat. Kaufman was quoted in Mancunian Matters as stating:
This has profound connotations of religious feelings and I would be letting my own faith down, my family, I would be letting my many, many good decent, fine religious Muslims in my constituency down if I did not state my total opposition to this Bill.
Despite the inarticulacy of Kaufman’s intervention, and the absence of any underpinning logic for his position, other than brazen politicking for the Muslim vote and his personal adherence to the dead letter of scriptural dogma, it was his position that won the day. This, and a number of other instances, demonstrates an uncomfortable reality: MPs and parliamentary candidates are, as a rule, highly responsive to Muslim demands because Muslims, generally speaking but with some exceptions of course, act as a highly volatile bloc vote, that can swing results in certain constituencies. If therefore, you should reside in a constituency where there are a significant number of Muslims, it is unlikely that your MP will be receptive to your plea to ban religious slaughter. For all of the protestations of the multiculturalists and advocates of mass immigration, this is the end result of their policy: not ‘enrichment’, but the growing power of dogmatic and vocal minorities to impose their backward beliefs on a more advanced society and culture; reversing our advances in animal welfare, and generating a climate of fear amongst potential critics of this regression, who wish at all costs to avoid being labelled ‘racist’.
Honouring religious Slaughter: Gibson’s Aztec take on Mayan History