The bigotry inherent in Halal certifications is now being highlighted by Christian groups ahead of Christmas.
Christian groups in Kerala have issued a call to boycott Halal meat in the state. Christian association CASA has appealed to Christians that the Halal food should not be brought to their tables anymore.
“The concern of the Christian community is very genuine,” a Christian spokesperson told Times Now. “Getting non-halal food is our right. But unfortunately in Kerala, the situation is very different. The owners of most of the restaurants belong to the Muslim community, and they sell only Halal food. We are forced to buy Halal food only. Even restaurants owned by Hindus and Christians are forced to sell Halal food,” he added.
The Indian Union Muslim League has meanwhile jumped and called this a controversy, and a move in order to boycott Muslim meat shops in the state. But Kerala’s Christians aren’t the only group that are unhappy with the creeping imposition of Halal — the issue has been simmering for years across India.
Meat is certified halal if it’s prepared as per the dictates of the Quran. For meat to be Halal, the butcher killing the animal must be Muslim; he must additionally recite a Muslim prayer while killing the animal, and the animal must face Mecca while it is killed. A number of Halal certifying bodies then certify if the meat is Halal or not.
Now Hindus and Christians have no restrictions on whether their meat is Halal or not, while observing Muslims only consume Halal meat. This leads to restaurants offering only Halal meat on their menus, ensuring that Hindus, Muslims and Christians can all visit their restaurants — if their meat were not certified Halal, they risk losing out on some Muslim clients.
This, in turns, leads to butchers of other faiths finding that there are no takers for their meat. With restaurants choosing to only buy Halal meat, demand for meat prepared by Christian and Hindu butchers falls. This has been slowly putting Hindu and Muslim butchers out of business. This issue has been especially acute for Dalit butchers, who find that they are unable to sell their meat.
Such is the pervasiveness of Halal meat that Air India, India’s national carrier, only offers Halal meat. Even chains like McDonald’s only offer Halal meat in India. Groups in the past have said that this is discriminatory, in effect denying employment to people outside the Muslim faith in the meat processing industry. And with Christian groups calling for a boycott of Halal meat ahead of Christmas, this issue is likely to gather steam in the coming months.