New Zealand Lamb is halal
The Mail on Sunday revelation has been confirmed by the eminent Dr Richard North, a qualified meat inspector and former technical adviser to the Small Abattoirs Association (and contributor to the Mail article), who is of the opinion that this is ‘a bloody disgrace’.
Not the practice, of course, but the subterfuge.
And it is also going on in the nation’s schools, hospitals, pubs, restaurants and Wembley Stadium.
Insofar as the state permits the slaughter of animals in accordance with Jewish kosher stipulations, it is only reasonable that the same liberty be granted to Muslims with their halal requirements.
But kosher meat tends to be on the expensive side, so specialist butchers leave the buyer in no doubt about its provenance and it is clearly labelled.
Yet when it comes to halal, we are all being sold meat without being made aware of the fact that what we are eating has been ritually blessed and dedicated to Allah.
It is not only that these animals have their throats cut and appear to die in profound distress; it also transpires that slaughterhouses specifically employ Muslims to do the slaughtering so that they may proclaim with each thrust of the blade: ‘Bismillah Allah-hu-Akbar!’ (‘In the name of Allah, who is the greatest’).
You might expect this in the slaughterhouses which supply the major supermarkets in Bradford, Oldham, Birmingham, Leicester, Slough, London…
But to learn that all the New Zealand lamb sold by the major supermarkets is halal is immensely disturbing.
Not least because it does not fulfil the requirements of UK and EU law for humane slaughter: the decision is purely economic.
While Christians are at liberty to consume whatever their conscience permits, Paul expresses a particular concern over ‘meat offered to idols’ (1Cor 10:14-32).
But this assumes that the believer is aware that the meat has been blessed in the name of Allah, who is the greatest.
If the Christian is kept in the dark, Paul is rather chilled about the matter until someone comes along and makes the believer aware that the meat was idol-sacrificed. Christians are then exhorted not to eat the meat for their sake: we may eat and drink anything unless and until it causes another to stumble.
But no-one is much bothered about the dietary sensitivities of 71 per cent of the population.
British Sikhs, however, constitute 0.7 per cent, and their voice will be heard.
Unlike Hindus, some Sikhs eat meat, not least because one of their gurus is recorded as being a hunter. Yet within the Sikh faith are the ‘kurahit’, or prohibitions, one of which is to not eat meat ‘killed in the Muslim way’. The origins, as ever, have more to do with the politics of identity, but it is a sustained article of belief for Sikhs all over the world – they are simply not permitted to eat halal meat at all.
If they buy their meat from Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose or M&S, they have been doing so without their knowledge.
In this instance, the sensitivities of Christians and Sikhs and the demands of the animal rights activists are subjugated to the commercial considerations of the slaughterhouses who are pandering to the demands of 4 per cent of the population.
At the core of relativism is the pyramid of rights. Various groups vie for these rights appealing for hegemony at the expense of others in a state of flux - an amoral soup - struggling for a place at the top of the pyramid.
As far as the nation’s meat is concerned, the victor has emerged.
But it is not illegal to dupe non-Muslims into buying halal meat, so it is being done on an industrial scale. There is no statutory requirement for stores to label produce ‘Slaughtered in the name of Allah, who is the greatest’.
Cranmer does not do boycotts.
Unless, of course, he feels strongly about a matter.
New Zealand has just lost a customer.