We Brits are famous animal lovers. It’s unsurprising, then, that writer Mary Caldwell, in her Radio 2 Pause for Thought introducing the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, used a distressing story about Victorian chaffinch-keepers blinding their birds so they’d sing louder in competitions. Her lesson was from Francis of Assisi: "If we have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men".
Schedule 12 of The Welfare of Animals (Killing and Slaughter) Regulations 1995 exempts Muslims and Jews from Schedule 5, allowing them to slaughter animals that aren’t pre-stunned "without the infliction of unnecessary suffering". However, while Schedule 12 lays down detailed standards for the The Rabbinical Commission for The licensing of Shochetim (Kosher slaughter), there’s no mention of any body overseeing Halal slaughter.
I agree with Marc Lebuis (left), Québécois editor of Point de Bascule [tipping point] Canada when he says that if Muslims feel they need Halal-slaughtered meat then that should be their religious right. But Lebuis identifies the consequences of unregulated business, in that two organisations who took over Halal certification in Canada were stripped of their charitable status for passing funds to Hamas and Al Qaeda.
The potential to inadvertently fund terrorists is huge worldwide, given institutions’ predispositions to buying Halal food not to offend Muslims, probably ignorant of the Koran verse excusing Muslims from eating Halal when not available. (So the RSPCA’s Religious Slaughter Information Sheet disappoints by mentioning only Kosher-slaughtered food entering general circulation.)
The lesson pertaining to human suffering of unregulated Halal slaughter is that when organisations are exempted from controls for ideological reasons, suffering multiplies. Perhaps when the UN understands this, it will then announce International Days in Support of Victims of Forced marriage, Child Grooming, Female Genital Circumcision…the list goes on.
click to see Marc Lebuis interviewed by Giles Coren on Youtube or watch below: