CAIRO – A new controversy about halal slaughter is gripping Canada’s largest province of Quebec after two major political parties criticized the Muslim ritual slaughter.
“There is total disinformation about what takes place,” Mohamed Ghalen, in charge of conducting the halal slaughter at a slaughterhouse in St-Damase, near Montreal, told The Globe and Mail on Thursday, March 15.
“We don’t ask that methods for slaughtering the animals be changed. The same methods are used as those required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
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“The only difference is that I conduct a prayer before the slaughter begins.”
The controversy started after the Parti Quebecois said that the ritual slaughter of animals by Muslims and Jews causes suffering and produces unhealthy meat.
"If I had the choice at the counter I would not buy it,” said PQ lawmaker André Simard.
He claimed that the halal meat is unhealthy because the animal bleeds after it is slaughtered.
"Ritual slaughter also concerns sanitary risks.”
The claim was backed by François Legault's CAQ, who called for mandatory labeling of halal meat.
But Muslims reject the claim, saying it is based on misinformation.
“This entire controversy is based on false assumptions and ignorance,” Ghalen said.
The concept of halal -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Muslims warn that the controversy could stigmatize the sizable minority in Quebec.
“If people try to make money out of this, that’s not right,” said Ali Deis, who works at the Almizan meat store in Montreal.
Quebec’s food and agriculture minister Pierre Corbeil also rejected claims that halal meat was unsafe or animals were being cruelly slaughtered, saying the PQ was being “alarmist”.
The ritual slaughter has been the subject of controversy in several European countries, where pro-animal activists say it causes unnecessary pain to the animal.
Muslim scholars agree that Shari`ah provides a divine law of mercy that should be applied on all Allah’s creations, including animals.
Islam also provides details about avoiding any unnecessary pain.
Halal slaughter has recently become a main theme in election campaigns in France.
Far-right National Front leader Martine Le Pen said last month that all meat in Paris was halal, a claim denied by abattoirs.
The issue caught hold with President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for labeling all halal meat in France.Entering the fray, French Premier Francois Fillon said earlier this month that ritual slaughter was an “outdated tradition”, calling on Muslims and Jews to scrap it in order to keep with “modern society”.
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