Just days after the Mail on Sunday’s campaign – which I blogged about here – to incite mischief over the sale of ‘halal’ meat in an increasing number of mainstream outlets, supporters of the English Defence League have now begun to hold daily demonstrations outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken branch in Blackburn which has decided to obtain its chicken from ‘halal’ sources.
According to a local newspaper report:
‘[the] demonstrations kicked off with scenes of disorder as 50 English Defence League protestors descended on the Haslingden Road restaurant.
‘Four men were arrested on suspected public order offences late on Sunday and a skip was set on fire.’
EDL supporters have been involved in a number of anti-Muslim incidents in the past eighteen months including rampaging through a predominantly Muslim area of Luton smashing up shop windows and assaulting individuals with an Asian appearance. So, it is not particularly surprising that they would get worked up by the sight of a ‘halal KFC’ branch. But what I found most astonishing was the following reason an EDL supporter gave for holding their demonstrations:
‘There are quite a few issues which concern us, such as the welfare of the animals that are slaughtered.’
It is certainly right to be concerned about the welfare of animals especially those that are meant to be slaughtered. All too often they are kept and then transported in appalling and cruel conditions. However, as this report from The Independent a couple of years ago reveals, such cruel treatment is by no means unique to ‘halal’ butchers.
An added bit of irony to this story is that although the KFC branch in Blackburn has decided to market itself as a ‘halal outlet’, a spokesperson from the Lancashire Council of Mosques is quoted as rejecting their claim because the KFC chicken is stunned prior to slaughter.
This reflects a wider point about what actually constitutes ‘halal meat’. ‘Halal meat’ is a very profitable business to be in, particularly if you have set yourself up as an arbiter of what is halal and what is not. There are a number of Halal ‘authorities’ which give their seal of approval to outlets like KFC and are handsomely remunerated in return.
Some of these Halal ‘authorities’ disagree with each other about whether animals are allowed to be stunned prior to slaughter or not. The Halal Food Authority – which KFC works with – are prepared to certify those chickens that have been stunned prior to slaughter as halal while the Halal Monitoring Committee – a rival ‘authority’ – does not.