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Switzerland: Halal Pork Shocks Swiss Muslims

| 26/02/2013 | Reply

OnIslam

BERN – The discovery of pork traces in Halal food in several stores is shocking the Muslim community in Switzerland and igniting debates for launching a Swiss halal label.

The discovery of pork traces has ignited debates about launching a Swiss halal label.

The discovery of pork traces has ignited debates about launching a Swiss halal label.

“Sample analysis show a very low proportion” of pork meat, or less than 0.1 percent, the Swiss Central Islamic Council (CCIS) said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, February 26.

The CCIS has found traces of pork in halal kebabs in famous meat stalls in several Swiss cities including Bern, Biel, Zurich, Winterthur, Basel, Lucerne, Kreuzlingen, Lausanne and Geneva.

The test sampling was ordered by the Muslim group after being “alarmed by the scandal that recently erupted in Germany where 7 percent of pork meat was found in meat for kebabs.”

The CCIS said it was “shocked” by the discovery that pork traces were confirmed in seven out of 20 Swiss kebab samples tested.

Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.

The concept of halal — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.

Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Switzerland is home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims, out of a population of more than 7 million, most of whom are immigrants from Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans.

Halal Label

The discovery of pork traces has ignited debates about launching a Swiss halal label.

Since the end of 2011, the CCIS has been championing a campaign to launch a new agency for halal standards.

The leading organization also filed a complaint last October with the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) about the issue, which was blocked.

European countries have been marred by a horsemeat scandal over the past weeks.

Since the first horsemeat was discovered in frozen meals and burgers in Britain and Ireland last month, traces have been found in meat products across Europe.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has withdrawn meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden.

Swiss food giant Nestle also said it had found horse DNA in meat from the Spanish supplier, Servocar.

The discovery comes as European agriculture ministers meet for talks expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal.

SECOND ARTICLE

Swiss Muslims Eye Umbrella Organisation

18 February 2012

BERN – Swiss Muslim activists are joining hands to create an umbrella body for the Muslim minority, hoping that the new group would help improve understanding of Muslim issues among the authorities and the general population.

“Our goal is to create a legitimate democratic believers’ community that represents all of Switzerland’s Muslims,” Farhad Afshar, president of the Coordination of Islamic Organizations of Switzerland (KIOS), told swissinfo website.

The idea came to light following consultations with the country’s Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups.

Leading the initiative for the new body, KIOS and the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland (FIOS) have been working to formalize the “Swiss umma” idea.

Circulating it since 2009, both organizations hope that the new body could be in place by as early as 2013.

The initiators have formed a commission of public law and Islamic legal experts to examine the new body’s future statutes to ensure they respect federal and cantonal legislation.

Organizers believe a new grassroots community would improve understanding of Muslim issues among the authorities and the general population.

“The parliament should agree on social and political questions that concern Muslims so that we can talk with one voice,” FIOS president Hisham Maizar told the Sudostschweiz newspaper.

It would also be an important step towards the formal recognition of Islam as an official religion, in Switzerland, says Afshar.

“Whenever this question is raised the answer is always that you are not democratically organized and your groups do not represent the Swiss Muslim community,” he said.

“With such an organization we can speak on the same level,” he added.

Switzerland is home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims, out of a population of more than 7 million, most of whom are immigrants from Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans.

In 2009, the far-right party led a 57 percent of the voters’ approval on a proposal to ban the construction of mosque minarets nationwide.

The huge propaganda surrounding the voting, however, was regarded as a main cause of tarnishing the image of peaceful Muslims in the European country.

Important Move

The idea of forming an unmbrella Muslim body was proposed earlier this month in a report released by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“Getting organized is always useful, but it needs to be done democratically,” Hafid Ouardiri, general-secretary of the Geneva-based interfaith foundation Entre-Connaissance, told swissinfo.

“I think it’s good to have a common voice as lots of subjects get deformed through communication.”

Religious specialists, however, questioned whether the umbrella body is urgently needed.

“I can understand people’s wish to have a body that can speak with a certain weight with the authorities or in public on behalf of Muslims,” said Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, from the Religion Research Centre at Lucerne University.

“But I’m not sure all Muslims in Switzerland are interested in this initiative.”

Zanetti believes that none of the current Muslim groups in Switzerland represents the 400,000 Swiss Muslims.

“I think the federal authorities would not hinder the creation of such a body, but they would not promote it either,” he said, adding that the organizers were “still a long way off” realizing their dream.

 

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Category: Europe, Food Manufacturing, Ingredients

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