||Local paper, Bournemouth Echo, reports on a campaign instigated by a local publican to compel eateries in Bournemouth to disclose whether the meat served is halal.
From the local paper:
“A man is calling for all Bournemouth cafes and takeaways to be obliged to say whether their meat is slaughtered by Muslim rules.
“Animal rights campaigner Gary Hazel claimed some of the methods used are “very cruel” and people should be able to make an informed choice.
“Jewish and Muslim communities are exempt from a law that requires animals to be stunned before their throats are cut.
“Gary Hazel, 37, a chef and publican from Bournemouth town centre, said: “A lot of people confuse the issue with race and religion.
““That’s a distraction. For me, it’s animal cruelty, and the way they slaughtered.”
“He spoke out after trying eight different cafes on a night out and finding all served Halal meat.
“He then went on a tour of takeaways between Ashley Cross and Boscombe with a vegan friend and after speaking to the staff said he found 41 out of 45 served Halal meat.
“Mr Hazel has written to the council and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns about the issue.
“He said: “Bournemouth council could make it a condition of licence that all meat products could be clearly labelled so we could at least make an informed choice about where we spend our money.”
“Bournemouth Council said the national law do not oblige takeaways to put up notices saying whether they serve Halal or non Halal meat.
“The council does have the power to compel those that advertise Halal meat to prove that it is genuine.
“Sarah Rogers, Senior Licensing Officer, said: “As far as licensing is concerned we are unable to impose conditions on licences regarding the origins of meat.”
“Cllr Dave Smith, the cabinet member for communities, whose portfolio covers licensing, said: “This issue is not a priority for the council at the moment.
““I am sure if customers inquire they would be informed how the meat was prepared.”
“The campaign group Compassionate Dorset said: “We believe in protecting animal’s rights to a pain-free death. We are against unstunned Halal and Kosher meat.” “
Halal meat and its ready availability in eating places around the country has been the focus of an implicit Islamophobia campaign according to Professor Joe Regenstein of Cornell University. In a feature article in the New Statesman some months ago, Regenstein said:
"Many of those attacking religious slaughter have no clue as to what is happening. It is more of an Islamophobic issue, not an animal well-being issue."
The animal welfare argument has been exploited by the BNP, with the party leading protests against a Subway franchise in Sunderland because it sold halal meat.
It is noteworthy that Mr Hazel’s contention lies with halal meat, and not kosher meat. Indeed, much of the hysteria and the way in which the debate is conducted singles out halal meat though the religious slaughter methods permitted by law governs both halal and kosher meat.
The government recently launched a consultation on religious slaughter details of which can be found here.