Islamophobia Watch points us to a report in the Sunderland Echo on a protest planned by the BNP today in Sunderland against the sandwich shop, Subway’s sale of halal meat in its shops in the city. The BNP have staged similar protests in the past in other parts of the country.
From the local paper:
“BNP leader Nick Griffin is due to lead a demonstration in Sunderland tomorrow.
“Mr Griffin and members of his party are planning to take part in a demonstration against the use of halal meat in Subway sandwich shops in the city.
“However, despite claiming their protest is neither politically or racially motivated, their plans were today condemned.
“Tahir Khan, chairman of the multi-cultural organisation Unity, said: “Picking on religious beliefs is very evil-minded and is wrong morally. I think the BNP is just wasting its time and resources.”
“Martin Vaughan, North East BNP representative, said: “My party has campaigned for many years about the barbaric slaughter of these poor animals.
““They should not be ritually slaughtered in this country and it’s a barbaric way to kill animals.
““It’s got nothing to do with religion. It’s all about the health and safety of the animals. It’s diabolical that this is allowed in this country.”
“The BNP also plans on lobbying the RSPCA about the issue, which they claim the animal charity ignores.
“BNP chairman Griffin is expected to attend the demonstration before the group move on to Jarrow. Later tomorrow, he is due addresses [sic] a branch meeting in South Tyneside in the evening.”
The protest at halal meat is only a part of the BNP’s wider campaigning against the presence of Islam and Muslim communities in the UK, and has been mimicked by other far right groups such as the EDL.
Although the BNP states that its campaign has “got nothing to do with religion” and that “It’s all about the health and safety of the animals” a look at its campaigning would appear to tell you otherwise. BNP and other far right campaigns around ritual slaughter have consistently centred on its practice in the Muslim community, ignoring completely its widespread practice in the Jewish community. If the BNP really did care about animal welfare they surely would not ignore this, or the many other animal welfare issues which are pertinent in the UK, such as modern farming techniques and animal rearing.
The tabloid press and the Daily Mail in particular have agitated the issue with alarmist reporting on halal meat. The issue has even reached government in recent months.
Before anyone considers that the BNP and others on the far right care for animal welfare, one should first look at the facts on halal meat and stunning which are often entirely overlooked. The RSPCA, whom the BNP “plans on lobbying” understands that around 90% of halal slaughter involves animals that have been pre-stunned. The EU puts the figures of pre-stunning at between 75% and 100% depending on the animal, and the Food Standards Agency estimates that between 81% and 88% of animals slaughtered for halal meat are pre-stunned depending on the animal.
The BNP’s anti-halal campaigning is simply a fig leaf for a deliberate anti-Muslim agenda. As Joe Rigenstein, a professor of food science at Cornell University told the New Statesman for a cover story on ‘halal hysteria’ in May, “The truth is that halal has become a proxy for much deeper fears and concerns about the presence of a growing and vocal Muslim population in our midst.
“It’s being used as a political issue, especially by xenophobic and Islamophobic folks, to whip up a backlash against ‘the other.”
UPDATE: The Sunderland Echo reports that the BNP protest was met with a counter protest and that Nick Griffin failed to show.
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