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Halal(baloo): face it, you’re a xenophobe

One topic that has filled my news feed over the last few days is that of Imam Elsadi appealing for Muslims to be able to slaughter animals using the halal method. His comments were met with outrage from members of the public.

A good number of these comments were couched in a sudden-found care for animal rights in a country where their abuse is regular news. In reality, it had more to to with racism and xenophobia than a genuine concern for how an animal is put to death for consumption.

This issue and the reaction of members of the public highlights a much larger contemporary debate- the so called “failed” integration of minorities and migrants into Maltese society. Furthermore, it sheds light on the fact that in Malta, it is impossible to engage in public or political debate on matters such as this without being exposed to the underlying tones of racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Those claiming that halal is cruel probably include a number who feast on greasy halal kebabs once a week, agree with the shooting and trapping of birds, don’t care that the Wudy in their morning sausage roll is halal, purchase products that are tested on animals, and have absolutely no interest in buying organic or ethical animal-based products.

Most of these individuals have absolutely no idea how halal slaughter is carried out, nor do they have the faintest clue on the conditions that prevail throughout the non-halal meat industry. Halal slaughter of animals was conceived on the historical principle that it was one of the more humane methods available.

“The Arabic word halal means permissible, and the rules of slaughter are based on Islamic law. The animal has to be alive and healthy, a Muslim has to perform the slaughter in the appropriate ritual manner, and the animal’s throat must be cut by a sharp knife… Blood must be drained out of the carcass,” according to an explainer in The Guardian also aimed at addressing misconceptions on the issue.

As with kosher meat, the idea is that the animal dies immediately and the blood drains away. Contrary to what many assume, over 85% of halal meat in the UK is actually stunned before it is killed, as is most of the halal meat on the European market.

Their rhetoric has no basis in fact or logic, instead they just regurgitate Daily Mail headlines or phrases they have come across in far right publications (a number of them pushing sensationalist and false headlines) before tucking into a hearty meal of fried chicken bought from a popular local takeaway chain which, yes, sells only halal chicken.

These self-righteous bastions of social media morality include those who don’t care about dead babies on migrant boats. Where is the outrage for the latest 100 suspected dead at sea?

The same can be said for the debate surrounding the plight of migrants that cross the Mediterranean. Victims of war, poverty, human trafficking, abuse, and poverty- these people are so desperate to escape the hell that has been forced upon them that they are prepared to risk their life for a chance at safety.

They are not criminals, they are not parasites, and they are not deserving of the hand that life has dealt them which comes down to the fact that they were not lucky enough to be born in a “safe” country.

Joining Malta’s unprecedented number of animal rights ‘specialists’ is a growing number of ‘experts’ in international law and human rights attempting to justify their racist and xenophobic views on legal grounds. While some say what they really think, racist warts and all, a growing majority are quoting false statistics, incorrect interpretations of the law, or stories from right-wing propaganda sites as a means to somehow justify their arguments.

This faux morality stinks of hypocrisy and it is nothing more than a way to dress up right-wing views and present them as something more socially acceptable. These people don’t care about animal rights, they don’t care about laws, human rights – they only care about themselves. They couldn’t give a damn about the welfare of a cow, sheep or chicken, unless of course, it is a Muslim who wants to tell us how to kill it.

In a recent survey, Malta was slammed for its attitude towards foreigners and it has been criticised for racist attitudes and unacceptably high levels of hate speech. This attitude then translates into every aspect of society, the legal system, politics and social discourse – it has infected society with its poisonous tendrils that work tirelessly to suffocate those that believe in humanity or the voice of reason.

Quit trying to dress it up as anything else.

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