MPs called on to defend non-stun Halal in Parliament debate

A leading certifying body called on consumers to encourage local MPs to attend yesterday’s Parliament debate and defend the right to Halal slaughter.

The Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) said it was vital to “speak in defence of religious freedoms” and “defend our right to perform slaughter according to our religious rites”.

The debate at Westminster Hall covered the motion for ‘non-stun slaughter of animals’ put forward by Laurence Robinson MP of Tewkesbury.

With Parliament also reviewing the labelling of Halal and Kosher meat, the debate mainly affects the UK’s Muslim and Jewish communities.

As the UK’s largest certification body, HMC said it was necessary to ask “parliament to go a step further and label products as to the exact stun method that was used i.e. gassing/mechanical slaughter/water bath, stunning, etc.”

MP Laurence Robinson makes his motion

While Mr Robinson began his motion by claiming that “this debate is certainly not about preventing people from practicing their faith”, he did insist that “beliefs do have to be tempered with the fact that we should cause another living thing harm when it can be mitigated”.

He also pointed to other countries in the EU who had already banned slaughter without prestunning including Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark.

Mr Robinson concluded: “I am suggesting that the government does look to banning non-stun slaughter if the government feels that evidence points that way and if it feels it would be appropriate to do so. That is a position based on scientific evidence.”

Any move towards banning non-stun will be a sign to the Muslim and Jewish communities, that their religious rights are no longer protected – Halal Food Gastronomy

The husband and wife blogging team Halal Food Gastronomy, who only review restaurants that offer “non-stunned, hand zabiha, Halal food”, told FtLion that since Britain “prides itself in protecting religious freedoms… any move towards banning non-stun will be a sign to the Muslim and Jewish communities, that their religious rights are no longer protected”.

Non-stun labelling and consumer choice

There were also a number of MPs during the debate who raised the issue of clearer labelling to allow consumers the opportunity of making informed choices.

Although HMC agreed that such an approach was important “for the purpose of transparency”, it clarified: “If labelling is to be brought in, it should be more than just ‘stunned’ and ‘non-stunned’, if we really want consumers to be informed. The method of stunning should be labelled if labelling is to be brought in.”

Mr Robertson said that according to statistics he had acquired, less than half of Halal meat slaughtered in the UK was non-stunned.

He added: “While some slaughter practices in accordance with religious law do not allow pre-stunning, some Halal authorities consider that pre-stunning is permissible, providing that the stun does not kill the animal and the animal could have theoretically regained consciousness.

“I do think that is an important point to make because there are many consumers of meat who may not buy it if it is signified as being Halal because they believe that it was from an animal that was not stunned, which represents a loss in that market probably unnecessarily.”

Non-stun & Islamophobia

Mr Robertson was challenged by Naz Shah, MP of Bradford West, who raised the issue of intolerance by asking whether the debate “does really impact and correlate with the rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and is used as a tool to propagate, for example, the Tommy Robinsons et al?”

The MP of Tewkesbury responded: “If anyone does take up this issue on that basis they are completely wrong to do so and very ignorant of the debate.”

The Halal Food Gastronomy also raised this concern stating: “With both the Jewish and Muslim communities being most vulnerable, and increasingly having to put up with the most hate crime against them, MP’s should be reminded that one of the first laws to be passed by Nazi Germany was to ban Kosher.”

HMC cautioned: “Let’s not become a Belgium/ Denmark/ Sweden where non-stun Halal is no longer available, and support the Halal cause for the generations to come.”

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