I received some criticism after I posted my Eid El Kebir e-mail several weeks ago, in which I recounted the "sacrifice" of a sheep beneath my bedroom window. There were those who were quick to defend the halal ("permissible") slaughtering of animals as being humane, quick, and a far cry better than what transpires in Western slaughterhouses. I regret that I have a pretty vivid image of what happens in Western abattoirs and poultry factories & hatcheries, so I am not about to defend their brutal practices - far from it. But because any discussion that involves the word "halal" (in terms of food, its Jewish counterpart - oh that alone should insure that I receive a fatwa - is "kosher") is connected with Islam, and because (contrary to some of my comments in this blog) I really don't want to cast aspersions on anyone's faith (least of all to their faces), I have said little in this regard. Until now.
Islam requires that slaughter be carried out with a single cut to the throat, rather than the more widespread method of stunning with a bolt into the head before slaughter, because “God calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter, sharpen your blade to relieve it’s pain”. Electrocution is forbidden since halal slaughter requires the animal to be conscious and not contaminated by anaesthetics or intoxicating materials. Mild stunning for the subduement of larger, uncontrollable animals is being debated by Muslim jurists. In
There are 2 issues with religious slaughtering which animal welfare auditors have addressed: one is the method of dispatching (cutting the throat) and the other is the positioning of the animal to provide a quick and easy access to the throat. Even under the best of circumstances (i.e. a clean, speedy cut with no additional duress), it takes up to 2 minutes for an animal to bleed out. Muslims contend that the animal feels nothing because of the sudden loss of blood from the head, but to suggest that an animal doesn't suffer while bleeding to death (especially in the pandemonium of a slaughterhouse) is, in my mind, a little ingenuous. As an aside, I would note that it is forbidden for Sikhs to eat halal meat, because they believe the methods used to kill the animal are cruel, inefficiently slow, and unnecessarily painful. Having said that, "experiments" (which seem more tortuorus than the actual slaughtering - shades of Dr. Mengele?) were conducted by a pair of German doctors whose results support the claim that halal killing is less distressing than Western means of dispatching livestock.
In regards to the second concern, so-called religious slaughterhouses have been reproached for using shackles & hoists (to suspend a leg or legs), trip floor boxes (a slanted floor or another device) which cause the animal to fall down, as well as leg clamping rotating boxes (use your imagination) - in an effort to control the animal. Control? .... hmmmm, I wonder if the animal is plain scared shitless.
Nonetheless, let us turn to one of the cradles of civilisation -
Watch the video if you have the stomach. I tried, but within moments, I could only listen to the voice-over.
"We found appalling abuses—workers stabbed animals in the eyes, slashed their tendons, and cut under their tails—all without any painkillers—before finally slitting their throats while they were still conscious."
It would seem that these Egyptian slaughterhouse owners & workers have placed greed before compassion, have forgotten that they should " fear Allah in these beasts who cannot speak."I would like to point out that this documentary has had the happy result of bringing about the suspension of live exports of Australian cattle & sheep to Egypt - a pyrrhic victory since the Australian government knew of these abuses 3 years ago.Because halal killing & Islam are intrinsically tied at the hip, perhaps the onus should be on Muslim meat-eaters to do something about this - why did it take Australians to blow the whistle? According to the Qur'an, there is no difference between the human world and the animal world in the eyes of Allah. If a Believer can be sent to hell for starving a cat, perhaps s/he can raise a hand to stop the torture of cattle and sheep in slaughterhouses which operates under the aegis of a merciful religion.
Islam purports to be compassionate to all living things and abhors the infliction of cruel and unnecessary pain on any animal, and that such brutality is answerable to Allah on Judgement Day. Judgement Day has arrived in Cairo.
Don't misunderstand me - I don't live in a glass house. Do the same practices exist here in Morocco?