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Farming Minister reconsiders stance on religious slaughter

Farming Minister reconsiders stance on religious slaughter

Categories: Latest News

Thursday June 18 2015

The Times follows the Daily Express in publishing an article about religious slaughter and animal welfare focusing solely on halal slaughter.

The newspaper, which has already displayed a strong bias in favour of animal welfare groups in their push for the removal of exemptions in law for religious communities, states that the Government is to “review” a decision concerning the volume of current applied in the “stunning” of animals.

The paper notes that the Government, consistent with its endeavour to “protect religious slaughter” exempted UK abattoirs from an EU regulation which “increased the minimum electric current applied to chickens before their throats were cut to ensure that they were stunned rather than immobilised.”

The paper relates that animal rights groups have urged for the regulations to be applied without exemption and the Government is purportedly reviewing the decision.

The Times reports the news as putting the Government “on a collision course with Muslim groups” because “Halal groups say the higher current could kill the chickens, rendering the deaths un-Islamic.”

Much like the Daily Express last week, which published an article about the labelling of meat and singled out halal meat although kosher meat is just as relevant to the debate about stunning and religious slaughter, The Times infers that any decision by the Government on revoking religious exemptions would affect Muslim communities only. The media bias surrounding the issue of religious slaughter is clear in The Times coverage of Eustice’s remarks. The focus on halal slaughter, not shechita, and the “collision course” that Eustice faces as reported to be only with Muslim groups, not Jewish ones, is on par with media coverage on the issue which has generally focused on Islamic rituals and Muslim communities.

During the second parliamentary debate on religious slaughter, prompted by the British Veterinarian Association supported petition animal welfare, MPs representing constituencies with a large Muslim and Jewish populations highlighted the concerns in those communities at the perceived hostility towards religious slaughter. MPs representing Jewish communities spoke of the fear and anxiety felt in these communities over the tenor of media and public debate on the issue.

Biased media coverage was raised by MP Mike Freer who noted the widespread coverage of animal abuse uncovered in secret footage from a halal abattoir in North Yorkshire but the minimal reporting on later footage taken from a secular abattoir which used stunning and in which animal abuse was evident.

Freer quoted emails from the public such as ““I don’t want my meat touched by a dirty man in a beard” and “I don’t want Muslim meat”— whatever Muslim meat is.””

The issue of religious slaughter has, in the media particularly, been largely discussed in reference to halal meat despite Jewish methods completely prohibiting stunning and the majority of halal meat slaughtered in the UK is pre-stunned.

The bias is indicative of the degree of anti-Muslim bias in the British media noted by Professor Stuart Weir who, in the foreword to Peter Oborne’s pamphlet Muslims Under Siege, wrote “writers in the broadsheet press and elsewhere [willingly] indulge themselves in blatantly anti-Islamic rhetoric and argument that would, as they argue, not be tolerated if it were directed against Jews, say, or gay people.”

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