The aggressive face of the halal economy in Auckland and globallyRAKESH KRISHNAN
Creeping Sharia is not just a catchphrase used by Islamophobes worldwide. It's happening right here in New Zealand.
An iconic Kiwi business that has been supplying meat products to Aucklanders for over 40 years is facing aggressive demands from its Muslim customers that it remove non-halal products from its shelves.
Owned by a pioneering Dutch family, it is a friendly store with a lovely manager who often greets customers by name. It's not a huge operation but they do brisk business and specialise in bulk sales.
I can't name the store because of obvious reasons.
Perils of the halal economy
A few years ago this Auckland store allocated a single freezer to cater for Muslim customer. In hindsight - which we all agree is 20/20 - it was a bad idea.
''The Muslim customers usually come in the afternoon when there are not too many regulars,'' the manager says. ''They often ask me why the store continues to have non-halal meat and tell me to stop stocking it.''
You'll agree this is pack behaviour that can make most people feel creepy. All alone in a store and surrounded by Muslim families suggesting that she get rid of non-halal stock, you can imagine the store manager's plight.
A slow, painful death
An animal being butchered is not a pretty sight. That's why as technology improved we devised better techniques to get on with the job quickly and thereby lessen the misery of the animal. It is debatable whether stunning the animal is the best way to butcher an animal but it's considerably less painful than halal or kosher.
According to Muslim - and Jewish kosher - tradition, animals must be killed by having their throats cut, and all the blood should drain out.
Occupy For Animals, a 100% non-governmental, non-political, non-religious and non-profit organisation registered in Luxembourg, says the halal method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact.
"Care must be taken that the nervous system is not damaged, as this may cause the animal to die before exsanguination (the process of blood loss, to a degree sufficient to cause death) has taken place. While blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died. If any other method is used its meat will not be halal."
This is the preferred method for Muslims because the consumption of blood is forbidden in Islam. But not all of the animal's blood is removed from the carcass.
What studies say
Basic common sense suggests halal slaughter causes severe suffering to animals compared with when the animal is stunned before slaughter. But let's not go there because common sense isn't very common. Let's stick to the scientific evidence available.
First up, here's what Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, the former chairwoman of Britain's Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has to say: "This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous."
FAWC says the method by which kosher and halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals and should be banned immediately. The Council says it can take up to two minutes for cattle to bleed to death, thus amounting to animal abuse.
Compassion In World Farming says, "After the throat is cut, large clots can form at the severed ends of the carotid arteries, leading to occlusion of the wound (or "ballooning" as it is known in the slaughtering trade).
Nick Cohen writes in the New Statesman: "Occlusions slow blood loss from the carotids and delay the decline in blood pressure that prevents the suffering brain from blacking out. In one group of calves, 62.5 per cent suffered from ballooning. Even if the slaughterman is a master of his craft and the cut to the neck is clean, blood is carried to the brain by vertebral arteries and it keeps cattle conscious of their pain."
What kind of meat are we eating?
Ideally, stunning should cause near instant death of the animal. It all depends on the quality of equipment available at the slaughterhouse as well as the training and motivation of the staff. There surely are the rotten ones where they don't bother if the animals are properly stunned and dead or unconscious before the blade comes down. But on the whole, modern abattoirs ensure a quicker end for the animals than medieval butchers were capable of.
However, in halal slaughter it's a totally different story. Animals are led into slaughterhouses where hundreds of animals are dying a slow, gory and painful death.
Animals aren't stupid; they know exactly what's happening to their fellow animals and to them. They are known to tremble with fear as they are being led to slaughter. Some try to escape and in the process trip and suffer horrible injuries. (The video of Australian cattle being butchered in barbaric fashion in Indonesia should be essential viewing for all those who consume industrial meat.)
Frightened animals being led to their deaths in such 'in-animal' conditions produce a cocktail of hormones and chemicals which ultimately find their way into our bodies. Stomach cancer and brain tumours are just two of the many diseases that humans get after consuming such meat.
However, the No.1 argument against halal is why should non-Muslims be forced to consume the meat of animals that are killed so callously. Muslims comprise less than 1 per cent of New Zealand's population so why do the 99 per cent have to eat it. Why does Nando's New Zealand, for instance, unabashedly advertise it is halal?
Halal is the thin end of the wedge. Today it is halal and tomorrow it will be sharia. Muslims are the fastest growing group in Auckland, especially in the central suburbs. In places like Sandringham burqas are common at schools and markets. In 50 years, they will have outbred other religions and will be in a position to ask for special laws and the right to pray in the streets as they do in Birmingham (UK) and Brooklyn (USA).
Prayer power: British Muslims praying on the streets of London.
See this video for what Muslim citizens of Luton in the UK are demanding. Thousands of British Muslims are marching through the streets of the borough, 50 km from London, chanting "UK go to hell", "British Police go to hell", "Hands of Muslims" among other Arabic language slogans. There are men and women carrying placards saying "Shariah the only solution for the UK".
The reason for such a violent outburst? The police arrested the wife of a Muslim terrorist. It goes without saying that only hardcore fundamentalists would oppose law and order agencies doing their job.
When a British woman, who grew up in Luton, asks one of the burqa-clad protestors why they are saying the "British Police will burn in hell", the Muslim woman snaps at her: "You are naked, who you trying to seduce?".
In the meantime several Muslim men aggressively crowd around her and ask her to buzz off.
The Luton woman then speaks to someone who appears to be a leader of the group. "What's the solution if Muslim people are in the wrong and they commit crimes? No one's above the law," she asks him.
The Muslim man replies: "If the land is Islamic we respect the law. If the laws are made by those who are not Islamic, then those who make the laws will go to hell. In the Koran chapter 33, verse 1, it says 'O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the unbelievers and the hypocrites'."
And he adds: "You are on your way to hellfire; all non-Muslims are destined for the hellfire."
Syrian Christian fanatics from India
To be sure, fundamentalist Muslims aren't the only ones showing such arrogance. My Syrian Christian neighbours from Kerala, India, told me to my face while at a party at their house that I was destined for hellfire.
It is quite ironic because Syrian Christians are largely converts from the 'untouchable' Paraya caste. Professor S.N. Sadasivan has shown in his excellent book, A Social History of India, how the population of the Syrian Christians increased as the population of the Parayas dived. Sadasivan says it was the extremely inhuman and brutal oppression of the Brahmins of Kerala that forced the Parayas to convert to Christianity. (The Parayas were at one time the ruling class of Kerala but because they refused to accept Brahmin superiority, they were relegated to the lowest caste in the Hindu hierarchy. However, in 1997 a Paraya became the President of the country)
After they converted and became Syrian Christians, they were granted special rights to acquire land and a monopoly on business by the kings of Kerala. It is a vivid example of India's dystopian caste system that the Hindu kings cared a rat's tail for its Paraya citizens but granted them all manners of privileges when they became Syrian Christians.
The Syrian Christians now show their gratitude by telling me that I will go to hell. (I don't want to publish my reply as it's unprintable.)
I have gone off-tangent to show that minorities like to feel a sense of victimhood in order to grab special rights, privileges and quotas. The state needs to step in say all are equal, no special rights, pray at home, and get rid of those loudspeakers.
It is when the state steps aside and tries to curry favour or treats minorities as a vote bank that minorities start believing they are more powerful than they really are. It may be hard for isolationist New Zealanders to believe but it is true that several British Labour Party candidates are known to do their campaigning in Pakistan. These politicians travel to Pakistan and come back with reccos which they display in their constituencies as proof of their commitment to British Muslims.
While a large number (I won't say majority) of Muslims are loyal to the country of residence, the problem is they are silent. You don't see Muslims stepping out on to the streets and saying, "We are with the West where we live." Instead Muslims are easily provoked by so-called anti-Islamic acts of non-Muslims.
This month 600 Muslims were killed in Egypt by other Muslims. On August 14, Pakistan's Independence Day, Sunnis blew up nearly 100 Shias in mosques. Nobody protested in the streets.
And yet a single drone strike by the United States that kills a hard core terrorist (and sometimes regrettably a few innocent bystanders) will spark fires and riots worldwide.
American author James Zumwalt, a former US Marine, writes in UPI about the dangers of Sharia.
In 1978, he says, the Saudi Arabia-funded Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA) was established in the United States. Today, IMMA's focus remains on promoting the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs' foreign policy "to grow an unassimilated, aggressive population of Islamic supremacists who will gradually but dramatically alter the character of the West".
Zumwalt writes in another article: "Muslim leaders call for followers to rally 'round the common bond of Islam - the Koran mandating their historic destiny. It is one of territorial expansion to create a world free of borders and united by Islam - achieved by violent followers who eliminate all non-Muslims, confiscating their lands.
"It is a world subject to Islamic law alone, known as "Shariah". It is a world by which Muslims are a "master race", with all non-Muslims either submitting to Islam or being put to death. Universal human rights are non-existent with only Muslim males primarily entitled to them.
Variation across Muslim nationalities
In New Zealand, Muslims of South Asian origin seem to be more particular about halal than, say their fellow religionists from Lebanon or Central Asia who are more sure - and therefore relaxed - about their faith and identity.
Indian Muslim parents in New Zealand insist their kids be served halal meat at birthday parties. This can be exasperating for non-Muslim parents because they can either refuse and deny an innocent child some tasty morsels or acquiesce and allow the Muslims a moral victory.
On the other hand, take an Uzbek Muslim to lunch (as I have) and they seem totally uninterested in where their meat comes from.
South Asian Muslims should bear in mind that the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, used to eat pork. Famous authors Stanley Wolpert and Rafiq Zakaria both assert that Jinnah loved bacon.
Small states, big on gumption
While the rest of the world appears to bow before Islam's relentless push, two countries have bucked the trend. Poland has banned both kosher and halal products, a move that has cost the country US$1.3 billion in lost exports.
Sri Lanka, which is a 70 per cent Buddhist country, has forced its Muslim minority to respect its Buddhist traditions. Today halal certification cannot be displayed in stores in Sri Lanka.
The world's leading democracies need to look into the mirror and ask: "Are we weaker than Sri Lanka?"