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Forget foxhunting, what about the halal butchery?

Forget foxhunting, what about the halal butchery?

Author: Anthony Browne
Publication: The Times, UK
Date: November 7, 2002

I don't really care for foxhunters. Despite growing up in the countryside surrounded by foxes, I rarely met those who kill them for fun. I don't believe their spin about its economic importance. I am against cruelty to animals, and all things being equal I would support a ban.

But all things are not equal just the opposite. And it has turned me into a sympathiser for those fighting off hunt-hating Labour MPs, who are waging a campaign in hypocrisy, intellectual fraud and blatant class war. They are so awash in their own dismal multicultural propaganda they don't even realise what hypocrites they are.

That hypocrisy has a name: it is halal butchery, when modern painkilling techniques are not used. And before I am accused of Islamophobia, it has a another name, shechita (or Jewish ritual slaughter).

And it means that the Prince of Wales was right: if foxhunters were ethnic minorities like Muslims or Jews, they would not be persecuted in the way they are.

Halal and shechita are the biggest acts of animal cruelty in this animal-loving country, and yet no one dares say anything. They involve slitting the throats of fully conscious animals so they bleed to death, which can take up to three minutes. Eyewitness accounts of this practice, done behind closed doors, are literally blood curdling. About 13,000 foxes are killed by hunters each year, but around 600,000 farm animals are bled to death while conscious.

Far from legislating against this industrial-scale cruelty to animals, we have actively legislated for it. By law all animals have to be stunned so they are unconscious at the time of slaughter - unless they are killed by Muslims or Jews, who have a special legal get-out.

And no, it is not to do with religion, but rather with cultural practices. Just like foxhunting.

Islam dictates that an animal be killed by a Muslim, that a prayer is said, and that it is bled to death. It does not declare that an animal must be conscious. Many Islamic authorities accept stunning of animals prior to slaughter, producing cruelty-free halal. The Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation and the Joint Committee of the League of the Muslim World accept electrical stunning, so long as the animal isn't killed. Britain's Halal Food Authority, which authenticates halal food, accepts electrical stunning.

It is illegal to slaughter all animals without stunning in Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland, and this year New Zealand made stunning compulsory. New Zealand has a thriving cruelty-free halal lamb industry, exporting it across the Islamic world.

Under Jewish religious law, an animal must be uninjured before slaughter. This may preclude stunning with high-speed bolts, but an electrically stunned animal will quickly make a full, uninjured recovery. In any case, the stunning could take place immediately after the throat is cut.

Since electrical stunning has been accepted, perhaps four fifths of ritual slaughter in Britain is now cruelty-free - but still more than 12,000 animals are killed cruelly every week. There is no religious justification for this cruelty - it is just cultural practice. So why do we hear nothing about it, while foxhunting, which involves cruelty on a far smaller scale, is the target of a noisy abolitionist campaign?

It is because of the hypocritical dishonesty and double standards of our multicultural experiment. While old British customs like foxhunting are legislated against, ethnic minority customs that cause far more cruelty are legislated for. Yet everyone is too frightened to mention it. Prince Charles was right all too right.

MPs determined to ban hunting insist that they are against cruelty. But until they oppose the far greater cruelties of ritual slaughter, they are hypocrites waging class war.

I don't care for foxhunting. But do care for fair play. While Muslims; and Jews can carry on their customs, Anglo-Saxons wearing re should be able to carry on theirs.

(The author is Environment Editor of The Times)
 


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