Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
While the slaughter of animals without prior stunning is prohibited in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia , in Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, Muslims in the UK are suing him. cruel practice, while the authorities seem to ignore this issue in silence. A number of other European states, including the Netherlands and Germany, have explicitly banned the export of animals slaughtered without stunning.
In February 2019, the National Secular Society (NSS) warned UK authorities against turning the country into a ‘non-stunning halal slaughterhouse’ after it emerged that much of the mutton not stunned was exported. According to statistics available from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Slaughterhouse Survey 2019, in 2018 alone, more than 94 million cattle, sheep and poultry were slaughtered without first being knocked out in England and Wales. Almost a quarter (24%) of the sheepmeat that was not stunned before slaughter was exported from the UK. According to the British Veterinary Association, this equates to around 750,000 sheep slaughtered without prior stunning per year for consumption outside the UK.
Although UK animal welfare law requires all animals to be stunned prior to slaughter in order to minimize suffering. But, the only exemption is that religious communities respect Jewish and Muslim religious food preferences.
The shechita (Jewish) method of slaughter is exclusively non-stunning in the UK, while Islamic halal slaughter includes both stunning and non-stunning methods of slaughter.
According to the latest FSA figures, 71% of sheep slaughtered in England and Wales are slaughtered by a halal method (both stunning and non-stunning). It can also be mentioned here that Britain’s Office for National Statistics reveals that the current Muslim population in the UK is just over 5%.
Stephen Evans, Managing Director of the NSS, said: “All animals must be stunned before slaughter, without exception. As long as a derogation exists, the export of animals slaughtered without stunning should be prohibited.
“The fact that the religious exemption compromises animal welfare in the UK is in itself unacceptable. It is further worrying that the exemption is being abused to stimulate the UK halal non-stunning slaughter industry. It certainly goes against the spirit of the exemption, if not its letter. Becoming a hotbed of massacres without stunning would not be a good idea for post-Brexit Britain ”.
One country – two laws
The UK has been at the forefront of animal welfare legislation for over 100 years. The first animal welfare law was passed in 1911 and covered domestic or captive animals, including farm animals. Since then there have been many versions of the law in UK law, but one of the clauses in the law that has always been retained is that which makes it an offense to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal which is destroyed to provide food for humanity. Each year in the UK, around 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs and 950 million poultry are slaughtered for human consumption.
The 1911 law has been amended several times and specific laws and regulations on the subject have been introduced over the years, but this founding principle has been preserved and extended and resulted in strict legal methods mandated for the slaughter of food animals, designed to ensure rapid and painless death and require the animal to be stunned and unconscious before shipment.
But today millions of animals are suffering untold agonies in the UK and in some of the EU’s slaughterhouses due to exemptions to the law in the name of religious freedom, granted under the law of the ‘EU and incorporated into the UK legal system. Jews and Muslims are exempt from humane pre-slaughter stunning laws for religious reasons because both religions claim that religious slaughter is as humane as the alternatives, and the act of slitting the throat “stuns the animal ”, therefore“ there is no delay between stunning and subsequent death ”.
But the campaigning group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) calls halal slaughter “a prolonged torment,” saying the animals “fight and gasp for their last breath, struggling to stand while the blood flows from their necks ”.
In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the killing of animals without stunning, in the name of “respect” for a religious minority. According to the BBC’s You and Yours program in November 2014, halal meat now accounts for around a quarter of the UK meat trade. It’s served as standard meat at Wembley Stadium, Twickenham, on all British Airways flights, at Nando’s, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and even Ascot Racecourse among others. Most schools, hospitals and prisons have also adopted a “Halal only” policy without informing or consulting parents or unfortunate patients and prisoners who unwittingly eat it.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor-in-chief of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter at Salah_Shoaib