“Muslims must root out ‘cancer’ of radicalisation” – Is that really so?

The quote in my title is attributed to Sadiq Khan, a high profile Muslim who is standing for candidacy at the 2016 mayoral elections for London but have “we” been too quick to latch onto these words. The speech, made to journalists and commentators came to my attention after one well respected columnist wrote a column for The Telegraph that was published online. Mr Khan may now be a hostage to fortune. Information from UK security services suggests that Muslims cannot possibly deal with the “cancer” on their own. On the contrary secularists may have to start searching their souls and ask if they are also letting young people down.

The columnist was like a cat on hot bricks and jumping for joy. Here was a Muslim was telling Muslims to root out the radicals in their midst. Had a non-Muslim been as straight and forthright s/he would be branded racist or Islamophobic. The commentator then proceeded to have pop at halal meat. The columnist seemingly felt liberated.

I challenged the columnist on Twitter and was told that I was missing the point. Really?

Apparently among Mr Khan’s concerns was the two-way lack of integration between Muslims and non-Muslims –Too many British Muslims grow up without really knowing anyone from a different background; without understanding or empathising with the lives and beliefs of others. And too many British people have never befriended a Muslim.

The columnist was empowered to write: “As any scholar of Islam will tell you, the ideology behind ISIL and al-Qaeda is as rooted in the Koran as are daily prayers and eating halal meat. Like Christianity, it just depends which verses you care to read and how literal an interpretation you choose to give them.”

At first this statement appears to be innocuous but why refer to “eating halal meat”?

This is an indication that the columnist has little or no empathy with Islam. Perhaps the reference to Christianity achieves some balance but there was no need to include to have a pop at a dietary code that when understood make sense. That so many secularists choose not to engage on the halal issue says much.

Importantly this one columnist omitted this: “And too many British people have never befriended a Muslim.’ To their credit most if not all others reporting this speech did not omit it.

Sadiq Khan is surely calling on both Muslims and non-Muslims to make an effort to understand each other better than they do. The columnist clearly has no intention of doing so – as shown by the gratuitous reference to halal meat, which the media almost anonymously will take and every opportunity to attack.

What neither Sadiq Khan nor the columnist could have known was that The Guardian had had sight of an MI5 review that shows that radical Muslims inhabit the fringes of Islam. Many are converts. They do not pray regularly. They lack the protection that an established religious identity provides.

I see a failure of the secular value system. At least state schools are meant to provide a multicultural climate or environment. People leaving schools these days should have been empowered to be tolerant. Perhaps they are so where is it breaking down. Why, according to official statistics do as many as 25% of young people “mistrust” Muslims? Where is the disconnect between the tolerance they should learn at school and how the perceive the world as they set out on their adult journey? Who is turning them?

For those who are not keen on Islamic faith schools and believe that they must be the source of radicalisation the MI5 evidence suggests anything but. Where is it all breaking down?

I do not have the answers but disaffection seems to be an issue. If disaffection means that young people are not engaged or do not engage well with society it is surely a concern for the whole of society and not merely Muslim community leaders alone. The MI5 evidence links radicalisation to conversions to Islam but from what? I imagine the comfort and social support provided by all established religions provides the protection that the MI5 refers to. What reason would most young Christians, Hindus and Sikhs to convert to a Muslim fringe that offers no protection – none whatsoever. Converts from other religions are likely to be on the fringes of their religion and not fully connected to or protected by their respective religion. For all practical purposes they are living a secular life that is not providing security and protection.

Seemingly the problem may be down as much to Secularism’s failure to provide protection and support as that of Islam and Muslims.

Ritual slaughter = Sacrifice = The Way of preparing meat to eat (part 1)

From the Wikipedia entry on ritual slaughter

In antiquity, ritual slaughter and animal sacrifice was one and the same. Thus, as argued by Detienne et al(1). for the Greeks, consumption of meat not slaughtered ritually was unthinkable, so that beyond being a tribute to the gods, Greek animal sacrifice marked a cultural boundary, separating “Hellenes” from “barbarians“. Greek animal sacrifice was Christianized into slaughter ceremonies involving Greek Orthodox Christian ritual, known as kourbania.

From the Wikepedia entry “kourbania”

Kourbania (Greek) via Turkish Kurban; from the Arabic qurban “sacrificial victim”; compare Hebrew korban) refers to a practice of Christianized animal sacrifices in some parts of Greece. It usually involves the slaughter of lambs as “kourbania” offerings to certain saints.

The practice involves the blood sacrifice of a domestic animal to either a saint, taken as the tutelary of the village in question, or dedicated to the Holy Trinity or The Virgin. The animal is slaughtered outside the village church, during or after the Divine Liturgy, or on the eve of the feast day.

I am writing this for the twittersphere and one tweeter who espouses a Judeo-Christian traditions and eschews Islamic ritual with no apologies. She makes no secret of her alienation to dhabiha or zabiha. I am sorry if it’s too brief.

When you look into the history of sacrificial ritual you discover that there is no such thing as “ritual slaughter” – rather it is an unhelpful term along with the word “sacrifice”.  That is how they killed their animals to eat.

Martin Henig, in his “Religion in Roman Britain” (Routledge; New Ed edition (5 July 1995)), describes how the people of Britain would have had feelings of guilt when killing. He refers to animals, in his words, needing to be willing. Perhaps animals should not resist or baulk but be relaxed, at ease and stress-free. This presumably made sense because a tense and stressed animal firstly would not have been easy to cut cleanly and secondly presumably produced tough meat.

We can surmise that with the concept of the “sanctity of life” people would not have killed what few animals they had just to waste the meat. It is also reasonable to presume that a typical nuclear family could not polish off a goat or lamb or small male calf  in one sitting. (Females were kept for milk and they would not have wasted resources on raising males like we do – it’s inefficient.) They could not store meat easily in hot climates hence the concept of community festivals whereby at least extended families or whole villages or tribes came together to celebrate a significant family event, the return of the prodigal son, or a saint or some other community event, such as harvest festival or passover.

Seemingly all the meat that could be eaten would have been eaten. The inedible parts of the carcass that could not be used or eaten was offered to God (or the gods) by burning – in effect sterilising them. Not doing so would have presented public health risks – rat infestations and diseases from infection. Given that they could not possibly have known about germs and micribiology they would have worked out good and bad practice. Bad practice would have equated to sins and God (or their god) would have punished them.

Seemingly also they gathered on what today we call consecrated (clean) ground – specifically in The Temple (latterly synagogues). That’s what Christian Churches and Mosques are modelled on. Apparently, according to Greek sources the meat could not be taken away – that makes sense as even today extreme care is needed if you are going to store cooked meat. Eating in the temple meant that cooking and eating was supervised, as it were, and the whole was conducted by trained operatives, priests, for the want of a better word.

The priests were trained to kill humanely. In Islamic tradition it is forbidden to eat meat from an animal that have been treated badly at any time in its life. Bludgeoning or clubbing to death was clearly not a humane option. They would have no idea how successful or how quick that would have been – and that appears to have been the case in modern slaughterhouses until the last decade of the twentieth century where modern clubbing techniques are in use. Check out Animal Aid investigation.

Modern “high welfare” slaughterhouse conditions are not necessarily good. Here is a 2009 example of a Soil Association approved “high welfare” slaughterhouse that was later unapproved. In fairness modern slaughterhouse conditions are improving but most significant changes have been in this century but welfare at slaughter is probably not uppermost in many peoples’ minds when they pick meat from a supermarket shelf.

To understand the role of the priest in ancient time it’s helpful to learn what is required to train a Jewish shochet. My father, a farmer’s son, trained as a butcher before the Second World War when farmers killed their own animals to take to the local town markets. They would have learned to kill, at least small animals, without stunning and would have needed to know that if any meat was unfit for human consumption.

Sadly I did not realise the significance of a picture that I saw in a book in the British Library and did not keep the reference but it described the initiation of Mithraic priests and one of the skill they required was what we would call “meat inspection” today. I have seen other references to what must be the same need in other cultic and religious practices.

Christians and Secularists are very quick to mock halal and I have written here because I recently discovered that followers Greek Orthodox Christianity traditions may not only be familiar with slaughter practices we associate with Jews and Christians but they have also retained the word “kourbania”, which is an obvious cognate of the Arabic and Islamic word “qurban”.

Other Christian practices ally with Jewish and Muslim practice.

Again from Wikipedia -Religious restrictions on the consumption of pork

Among many Christian sects, the restrictions were interpreted to be lifted by Peter’s vision of a sheet with animals. However, Seventh-day Adventists consider pork taboo, along with other foods forbidden by Jewish law. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church(2) does not permit pork consumption, while the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is divided on the subject(3)

It seems that those who criticise ritual slaughter need to think outside the box. Western Christians apparently may have absorbed pagan or heathen practices.

(1) M. Detienne, J.-P. Vernant (eds.), The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks, trans. Wissing, University of Chicago Press (1989)

(2) Charles Kong Soo Ethiopian Holy Week clashes with Christians’ 21 April 2011 Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Retrieved 11 March 2012

(3) “Egypt Copts Divided Over Pork”. OnIslam.net. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2014.



British Values: How two simple words have upheld Islamophobia via legislation

Originally posted on The DTM News:

The term ‘British Values’ is as much a phrase of nationalistic pride for some as it is a head-scratcher for others. They’re two words that mean so much, but so little at the same time. For the patriots, they’re the cornerstones of what this country stands for. For the rest of us, British values are a vaguely defined set of rules that are thrown around a lot, but aren’t expanded on. It’s these same opinion-dividing values that have been the focus of a new legal duty upon schools; the duty to prevent terrorism.

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Has Secularism gone too far?

The online headlines read

RT.com –

Historic Hollande-Rouhani dinner scrapped die to insistence on wine and non-halal meat;

The Telegraph –

Francois Hollande – Hassan Rouhani lunch binned over “wine row”;

The Washington Post –

France won’t dine with Iran unless win is served.

France has a Secular constitution separating state and church/religion. This is laudable but is there a risk that if the state simply does not talk about religion and does not teach it, at least in an academic manner, that people will lose touch with the rational elements of “religious” practice? People of faith become isolated and ignored by their state.

Have we sort of not been here before? Anti-Semitism before the Second World War was presumably normalised and few knew how to engage with Jews on a spiritual or moral basis because they simply had no grasp of what Judaism was. In any event Jews killed Jesus. Best not to engage except peripherally. Jews were isolated specifically in Germany and we know the consequences.

Is Secularism is on the verge of becoming the new religion? Has it already achieved that status in France?

Surely Secularism has to be informed tolerant and able to engage with religion, however tangentially, sufficiently so that it can understand some of the underlying principles underpinning religions. To be fair that’s not going to be easy because often people of faith also cannot explain their religion’s underlying values comfortably. There is unease and friction whenever and wherever Secularism and religion come into contact.

I have to admit to struggling to understand Christianity even though I label myself a Christian – as a flag of convenience as much as anything. Christianity does not exist as a homogenous concept and if you unpick it in a historical context you begin to realise that Western, Roman or Pauline Christianity may be very different from the philosophy promoted by Jesus.

I do not want to go into detail here except to say the first Christian movement was merely one of a number of Jewish sects – not even Judaism existed as a single settled homogenous faith system in Christ’s time, any more than Christianity exists as a homogenous religion today. It is, however, important to remember that, as Jews and if they ate meat, Christ and his followers would have been very comfortable with Jewish kosher practices. In addition they spoke Aramaic which is linguistically very similar to Arabic so they may well have been familiar with terms that we associate with Islam, which was not codified until the seventh century.

I believe there is a difference between the sect and the philosophy that Jesus espoused and that promoted by Paul. The Western Christianity that we know absorbed “pagan” ideas as it was assimilated into the Roman Empire. This is sufficient for Western Christianity not to have empathy with its co-religions – Judaism and Islam. This is highlighted by Christians comfortably eating pig meat and generally not associating itself with kosher and halal food hygiene codes.

We also need to recognise that the way in which much Western civil society is structured can be attributed to foundations laid by the Christian Church – especially health and education. I guess that until the Enlightenment what is now an independent university system may have been very much associated to with the Church. In the Middle East academia and Islam went hand in hand.

Now if that influence has largely come from Western Christianity it is easy to see how Secular Western society has little little empathy with either Judaism or Islam.

To keep this brief, you can see from Jewish and Islamic codes that among things personal and public health concerns were paramount and still are but this is not taught in a Secular world, which is largely informed by Western Christian thinking. “We” find comfort is presuming that Bronze Age and later Biblical peoples cannot possibly have understood modern concepts of food hygiene. For sure they could not have known about germs but they would certainly have clocked that there was a good and bad way of cooking food. They would surely also have worked out that there was a good and bad way of killing animals to eat. Get these practices wrong and you get food poisoning from the former and tough and uneatable meat if animals were not killed in a humane stress-free manner.

These observations informed first, Jewish and later Islamic codes. They were cultural rather than religious. Some Christians have retained these cultural practices. Kosher and halal dietary rules are

Now if this is not taught and specifically excluded from state debate when the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, knocks on your door in attempt to rebuild bridges between his isolated state and the West, and in this case France, how can you entertain him? How does this look to the people of Iran when their leader relaxes his attitude to the West, makes a conscious effort to re-engage, and is rebuffed by the very people who demand that Iran should re-engage.

The roots of anti-Semitism can in part be attributed to Christianity’s blaming Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus and in part Christianity’s losing touch with kosher/halal dietary codes. You can see these traits in Secularism.

It strikes me that Secularism has to be flexible. If Secularism is truly objective it will be able to grasp the rational behind kosher and halal codes but it cannot. Secularists are quick to point to “sky pixies” and “imaginary friends” when these codes have as much relevance today as they did two millenia ago.

Many blame dogmatic religion for many of the world’s ills (they may not be wrong) but is Secularism at risk of becoming equally dogmatic and isolationist or insular?

For sure it seems that in France a form a aggressive Secularism has prevented state officials from knowing how to accommodate a leader who is trying to make amends with the West.

France appears not to be a good place right now. Its brand of Secularism has led it there.

Where is teaching of religious affairs heading?

I am writing this after seeing two tweets referring to two parents’ reactions to homework on Islam. Both parents reacted strongly. The one tweet originated in the USA and attracted global attention. The second that I will focus on was from Britain.

Both tweets and the responses generated show that our community leaders, spiritual and temporal, have an uphill battle when introducing students to multi-cultural religious study. It is an issue that needs addressing and soon but I see no serious inclination. One issue is a lack of confidence among community leaders to discuss issues that they themselves have a poor understanding off. Even our spiritual leaders struggle – not least because many have themselves been brought up in an era and in environments where different religions were pigeonholed.

I fear when I see and read Christian community leaders openly sowing seeds of doubt and frankly painting negative images of Islam. It’s not helped when peers and supervisors refuse to challenge them. Our popular print media are mostly hostile. Those of us who are old enough not to have had the benefit of a genuine multi-cultural introduction to religion and who harbour negative vibes will only see those vibes reinforced.

This is encapsulated in the Twitter thread I want to highlight. Briefly a child is set homework based on Islamic study. The father seemingly exploded.

Homework brexit

The text reads:

“Muslims believe that Allah created the world and all in it. Each human is a khalifah (steward) and has a duty to look after Allah’s creation. Humans may use but they need to treat them fairly. Muslims also believe that animals are inferior to humans, and animals can be used for scientific testing as long as they are treated correctly. Farming is important however the animals must have space to move and rest. Hunting is not acceptable as it involved cruelty towards animals for example bull fighting.”

5. Give one example of a statement from the Qur’an that encourages animals to respect animals
6. Explain what is meant by khalifah and how a Muslim can ensure they look after animals.
7. Do you think that animal testing is ever acceptable and can you treat an animal correctly if you test on it?
8. “All Muslims should be vegetarians.” What do you think? Explain your opinion.”

Dad tweeted:

“My sons homework on Islam Made me rather angry, why force feed this monstrous ideology on children. #fuckthem”

I have selected tweet from the ensuing conversation.

– “It’s a legal requirement for the school to provide it. However, you can opt your child out. They don’t tell you”

  • cheers Phil, he will be opting out. Cant wait for the school to call me”

–  “teach kids the real Islam, the medieval butchery ideology that slaughters all none believers”

–  “after you tweet I had a deep talk with my son 9y and he understood. But I separated islam from muslims. Reform is possible”

  • “reform is possible in many subjects but not Islam. Would you really want a clan in your neighbourhood?”

–  “I agree schools show little respect to non Muslim views, this govt has sold us out to win Muslim votes.”

  • “it is puzzling why so much is forgotten about when it comes to this cult”

– “WTF If muslims respects animal why the hell 2.5 million animals are killed on Eid ul ajha .Bloody rascals.”

– “y r they teaching it in muslim minority country , r they mental ?”

  • “I don’t know but my son will not be doing it. He doesn’t need to know medieval barbarism”

– “@NickyMorgan01 why is your department teaching lies and evil ideology to kids?”

– “I home school mine. You don’t have to teach them the bullshit that they do!”

– “how do u ppl accept this kind of crap”

  • “I’m not accepting it nor will my son”

“we don’t want this crap for our kids our country!!”

Secularists and Humanists may not like it but this is an example of why religion and explicitly comparative religion must be taught in schools. It has to be taught in order to give children a reasonable chance of making sense of the adult world. But as we see the adult world outside school is hostile.

The origin of religion in general and individual religions in particular need to be taught at least in the historical contexts of their ancient beginnings. I have been trying to study their ancient history and am finding that so much can be connected together. I had a religious upbringing but am now in no way religious. My reading and research is helping me make sense of religion and as a result I cannot find it in me to attack and criticise the concept of religion nor its evolution into apparently distinct religions. That said religions today seem to have lost touch with their roots. That has to be a huge problem because much ritual practised by many religions no longer makes sense but connect it to its roots and a whole new light is shone on the world.

If we look at the Islamic beliefs in the Twitter picture and remove the reference to God/Allah and we are left with beliefs that even Humanists will mostly be comfortable with.

Unless we believe is parallel universes existing in the same time and space there was one Creation, the Big Bang. Man has a superior intellect and even Greens and Humanists believe that do not argue against our having duties of stewardship of the earth and its resources. Most humans eat meat and most thinking humans want to respect the animals that we eat. We want high welfare rearing and a kind end. These attributes underpin Jewish and Islamic slaughter – which is not to say that all Jewish/Islamic slaughter is of a high standard but then neither can that be said of secular slaughter practice, which is highly secretive. Muslims do not have sole ownership of the morality of animal testing or hunting.

Which father can object to these moral statements?

What, therefore, lie underneath his outrage?

Why did so many others rush to support his outrage?

A similar discussion ensued the American tweet. That discussion went viral and even got a mention in the UK news media – at least in their online content.

As I see it society may be reaping the harvest from the seeds that it has sown.

I was only ever taught Christianity at school fifty years ago. Any contact with Islam came under the auspices of history. It was a long time ago but I remember the Moors spreading across Africa and “invading” the southern half of Spain. What I learned of the Crusades painted a picture of Muslims being enemies and Islam being an alien culture. I have since discovered that Muslims “do” the “Madonna and Child” (their account of Mary’s unusual conception could have been taken from the Christian Bible).

Unpick other Christian rituals and you find direct connections to other religions through variants of the same rituals.

Returning to the tweet, the issue that has to be addressed is not just how religion is taught in schools but how children’s role models – namely parents and the grown up institutions they mingle with outside school – are themselves supported.

What needs to happen in the grown up world to help the dad who is struggling with the idea that Islam, the religion, is not evil. (Yes, there are bad Muslims but there are many Christians and secularists who are also not good role models .)

As I see it the most senior Christian community leaders in our country have to engage fully with their counterparts in other religions and accept that no one religion is superior to another and indeed may not even be superior to no religion at all. In their discussions they need develop a better understanding of the features they share and Christians my need to park the concept of the Holy Trinity.

We have to teach what religion is and how it came to be and the nature of the conflicts that now exist. We cannot not teach religion in schools but how it is taught needs a radical root and branch rethink. It must be truly multifaith and multicultural.

I will close with this thought. The seeds of anti-Semitism may or may not have been sown in Christ’s time but they festered for a long time millennia and culminated in the Holocaust. And arguably that’s what it took for Judaism and Christianity to reconcile themselves. I look around me and see a world in which, if faiths do not genuinely come together, a similar conflagration between Christianity and Islam could erupt on a very different scale.


**** I would like to express my acknowledgements to Claire Cavendish based in Exeter, Devon, for the Understanding Faith sessions she ran from The White Hart. I am not sure what I took away from her sessions is what she expected but I have a belief that when you study religion from an academic or detached perspective you will find common threads running through them. Thanks to Claire’s extensive reading and summarising I found confirmation of my thinking. This hardly surprising. The first humans from which are acknowledged to have ascended came from Africa. Modern civilisation as we know it seemingly originated in the Fertile Crescent (modern day Iraq) and spread west, north and east (after a graphic seen in the British Museum). Arguably most religions have developed from spiritual concepts originating there. At their centre presumably lay the concepts of humanity and sanctity of life. But when and where did it all gone wrong? Thank you, Claire.

Secularists need to join up their thinking on meat consumption

I have just engaged is a longish Twitter chat with someone very opposed to non-stun slaughter. I know, it’s a pointless exercise as Secularists have made up their minds and follow Secular scientists with a religious zeal that matches any Muslim. Below I show a section of the thread but first, let me state my position.

Our demand for large quantities of cheap meat requires industrial scale slaughter and not to stun is unconscionable. I have recently read that in Israel one, if not two kosher, slaughterhouses have been shut down on welfare grounds. Issues have also been identified in the USA. I am in no doubt that except in well-designed facilities non-stun slaughter does not scale up easily. In addition there are issues relating to training.

Fully trained Jewish shochet train over seven years or so. It’s a long period. One hundred years ago when farmers prepared their own meat for market many would also have undergone extensive training. My father was so trained and I gather that he did not stun sheep or pigs. Large beef steers were another matter. Eye witnesses say that sheep and pigs merely slipped away.

Dr Temple Grandin has written a great deal on slaughter welfare and advocates stunning but she has studied non-stun practice and attests that when done correctly it does not appear to cause pain. Here website is extensive. Here is a link to one of her papers.

Religious slaughter and animal welfare: a discussion for meat scientists.

She is clear non-stun slaughter performed to good standards is not unacceptable. When performed with unsuitable kit non-stun slaughter is not good. My support for non-stun practice is heavily qualified, as is Dr Grandin’s.

The Tweet that caught my eye:

MJ: … Even Tariq Ramadan has condemned the cruelty and waste.(See Tariq Ramadan Twitter).

BB(me): There plenty of good reasons to question our love affair with meat. Waste is surely a bigger issue with secular practice. Waste is an animal dying in vain

MJ: The animal wouldn’t care about whether it was wasted. Just pain and fear. Put yourself in its position


The name Tariq Ramadan is indicative of his being Muslim. Clearly his comments must allude to more than the issue of stunning. The Muslim position condemns cruelty. An animal that has suffered (at the hand of man) both in life and death cannot be considered halal.

The word “waste” caught my eye. In Biblical times the peoples who ate meat for sure understood the “sanctity of life”. Sacrificial rituals in part reflected their guilt for taking a sacred life. They worked out a right and wrong way of doing it humanely and hygienically.

Apart from birds most animals that they deemed suitable to eat were too big for the nuclear family to eat so they were shared around in the context of festivals, community gatherings at which the proverbial fatted calf was eaten. These festivals are one origin of charity or poor relief that is a strong feature in Isalm. Quite probably nothing that could be eaten or used, for example fleeces and hides, was wasted. To simply waste edible meat would have reinforced their guilt. What was inedible or used was offered to the Gods. It was burnt, in effect sterilised, so that the skeleton could be thrown away safely and not attract vermin. Nothing that could be utilised was wasted.

Tariq Ramadan must surely have been alluding to this thinking and practice.

That said, the word “waste” caught my eye for another reason. How much meat slaughtered to satisfy secular meat eaters is thrown away? How many unsold meat filled sandwiches do food retailers throw away? How many cook chill prepared meals are simply wasted because they have not been sold before a reasonable best before date?

How many of us think about where our meat came from when we consume it and how well it was actually treated – especially at death? How many of us offer a wee prayer to “Our Maker” thanking him for His bounty and by way of seeking forgiveness for taking a life to satisfy our needs. If we do not believe is a God or a Creator there is no one to thank and we can therefore only see animals and meat as a commodity. Therein lies a paradox. We do have feelings of guilt and we do have a concept of the sanctity of life requires us to give an account of our actions to ??? Would that ??? be God, or a god, or some other spiritual Supreme Being? That’s a discussion for another day.

MJ’s “The animal wouldn’t care about whether it was wasted. Just pain and fear. Put yourself in its position” suggests to me someone who needs to join up his/her thinking

Of course animals won’t know if they are about to be killed merely to be thrown into landfill or composted or burnt for energy. If they are killed on their own and in the absence of cues that suggest death they will have nothing to fear. However, pack them into a big lorry, however, drive them to the other end of the country, unload them straight into the slaughterhouse without any time in lairage in order to relax and chill out and they could well be stressed. If they are stressed they may not stun easily and their trauma will be compounded.

Now, to be frank this applies equally whether stunning is deployed or not. Animals that are agitated and tense when they cut will not cut easily. If the knife is not well sharpened and nick free it will lacerate or tear surrounding tissue and there may be bruising – both causing pain. Despite the blood a razor-sharp knife actually damages very little and presumably cuts through many nerves in its pathway. I do not doubt that nerves are stimulated but what sensations will the animal feel, when and for how long? Obviously we cannot be sure but most men will have experienced shaving nicks. Most of us have experienced the lightheadedness that precedes a faint. Neither can match a severe headache that must surely follow a mis-stun. How painful will an electric shock be if it is not effective first time?


The welfare of animals at slaughter is a big issue but let’s not kid ourselves that secular slaughter with stunning ritual and the religious fervour generated in defending it is fully informed. Very few people see what happens between the farm gate and the supermarket shelves. If we did care we would ask many more questions than we do. The people who slaughter on our behalves often detach themselves from the process. Slaughter is not a pretty site. It’s made slightly more tolerable because machines do the final deed. Even if operated my man there is a barrier between the man and the beast. That’s critical to our thinking.

True halal and kosher practice and custom creates a personal connection between man and beast. It’s close and personal. Now, that may well be the real issue in this debate. Secular practice is impersonal and we simply do not think or even care about it (until prompted) but so-called “religious” or “ritual” slaughter requires the consumer to reflect on the situation. Do Jews and Muslims reflect enough? Probably not but that’s a discussion for another day – except to say that bad practice can be found in both kosher and halal slaughter facilities trying to produce cheap meat in quantity while we rarely see what occurs in our secular slaughter temples.

The Danish Kosher-Halal slaughter ban

Twitter grab non-stun

I came across this Tweet after I started this post but it confirms my belief. This Tweet is clear there are people who would ban Jews and Muslims from observing good meat production practice. My post was going top start here.

Please be in no doubt the Danish ban on non-stun slaughter has nothing to do with humane slaughter.

A central and core element of good kosher/halal practice that may not be obvious is transparency of the supply chain. I came across this when reading around the horse meat scandal that broke in 2014. Long opaque international supply chains for processed meat products allowed horse meat to be mixed with beef and to be sold as beef.

Kosher/halal codes start high welfare animal husbandry. In the UK there is a growing Secular demand for locally produced high welfare meat. We are seeing a demand for farmers’ markets. In theory it ought to be possible for consumers to see and observe any stage in the supply chain. In practice an element of trust occurs – that’s trust in the people you know. It is the same with halal meat.

Although I did  not save the reference, at the time of the horse meat scandal I read about halal meat not leaving the sight of a Muslim. The the idea immediately made sense. In brief you should not eat meat whose provenance you did not know and supplied by people you do not know or should not trust.

In Secular Britain we have a range of quality marks that are supposed to assure that products are made to agreed standards.

The RSCPA has recently renamed its “Freedom Foods” mark as “RSPCA Assured“. Then there is the “Red Tractor” quality mark.

What do these quality marks tell us? The Soil Association’s website includes this statement:

While every effort is made to ensure that the information listed is accurate and up to date, it is the sole responsibility of the individual producer to check the organic status of the abattoir and associated services at time of slaughter.

It seems we have to trust what people say. The longer the supply chain the more opaque it must be and the more trust we have to place in more and more people that we can never know.

In February 2015 Animal Aid released covert filming from a non-stun abattoir in the North of England. The images placed in the public domain are distressing to say the least. In a statement that was released with the images was this:

… Yorkshire Lamb is the tenth slaughterhouse in which we have filmed undercover since January 2009. As with the others, we didn’t know what we would find when our cameras were planted, including that it was a halal establishment – the first we have investigated. All the other nine were practising so-called ‘humane slaughter’. Two were Soil Association-approved, and another was accredited by the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods scheme. In eight out of the nine, we found serious welfare breaches, including animals being kicked, punched in the face, given electric shocks, burnt with cigarettes and thrown about prior to having their throats cut …

Animal Aid cameras are in place for very short periods (a matter of a few days) so if the distressing incidents that have been captured are rare then Animal Aid would have had to be very lucky to have been around when they occur.

The Animal Aid images from the non-stun slaughter facility show that even “halal” certified meat may not be produced to a guaranteed standard implied by the label.

Go onto the Internet and you will find reports of breaches of welfare standards even from facilities selling into the Jewish Kosher market – even in Israel itself.

Countries that are banning non-stun are not doing so for humane reasons. Animal Aid filmed mostly in “humane” slaughterhouses. The truth is that even here in the UK we cannot be assured that the meat we consume has come from animals that did not suffer in the last moments of their lives in Secular slaughterhouses. Here in the UK with its high standards we do not know if meat has been humanely processed – that’s within country.

The Danish government will have been aware of these issues when it banned non-stun practice within Denmark. It will have known that it is forcing Jews and Muslims, who very reasonably believe that meat should be locally produced and distributed through short transparent supply chains, to eat from meat from unknown sources. Denmark has in effect knowingly introduced discriminatory legislation.

Why would it do so? To protect its Secular meat trade from criticism?

Have you noticed that when Secularists want to show that their rituals are “humane” they never show you the graphic bleeding out? There is an assumption that stunning is a foolproof procedure – when little is known about the rate of mis-stunning which may be more that 1 in 20 animals. Insiders tell me that production lines slow down when Defra’s official inspectors are snooping around the slaughter halls. Others tell me that increasingly veterinary surgeons are avoiding eating meat – now that would make for an interesting study and would be very informative.

I introduced this post under the guise of the recent Danish ban on non-stun slaughter. The ban requires Jews and Muslims to buy meat from ever increasingly opaque supply chains. I have shown evidence that Secular slaughterhouses have issues and that Secular supply chains are not transparent.

Halal and Kosher dietary laws are derived from knowing where the meat one eats has come from and how it died. Good Secular practices promote the same principles and there may be growing interest in supporting local meat producers and distributors – by using family butchers, farmers’ markets and farm shops. Good Secular practice seems to be in harmony with good halal and kosher practice. This leads to one conclusion – banning non-stun slaughter must be rooted in anti-Semitism.

I have been provocative but as we know proper halal/kosher slaughter practice, applied by people with proper training and in the proper places is a non-inferior practice. In America and here in the UK non-stun facilities catering for the halal or the kosher markets have been found wanting – and so have Secular facilities operating under quality marks that are meant to assure humane stun slaughter.

I guess the bottom line is that if we want cheap meat in quantity we have to reduce our welfare expectations – or give increasing consideration to reducing our meat consumption.


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