Chris Dobney – Byron Echo
The Byron Bay Coookie Company has refused to comment over orchestrated attacks by an anti-halal certification group on its Facebook page against the company’s products, particularly its Anzac biscuits.
After months of attacks by the group, calling itself Halal Choices, the company put a statement on its Facebook page this week, saying certification was an essential requirement for its export sales.’
‘Byron Bay Cookie Company cookies are halal certified as we proudly make products that are enjoyed by people all over the world. We are fiercely proud of being an Australian business whose products are locally manufactured and exported to markets throughout Asia, Europe and America,’ the statement read.
‘These export sales are an essential part of our business, and crucial to preserving investment and employment here in Australia.’
The Facebook comments that followed this week’s statement range from the apparently rational to the downright hair-brained.
Vegemite and Milo have also come under social media attack for producing halal versions.
Melinda Neist wrote, ‘As a beef producer and knowing the inhumane treatment of livestock subjected to halal slaughter, we are horrified that any Australian business would promote halal, whether they use meat in their product or not. None of our family or friends will ever purchase your products again and we will spread the word far and wide!’
On the other side of the fence, Louisa Breen wrote, ‘Halal means “this is something that someone who eats halal can eat”, exactly the same as kosher food is classed as anything that complies with kosher food preparation laws.
‘Nearly all the food we eat is both kosher and halal: it’s just things which are manufactured with multiple ingredients on production lines which may be contaminated with other products need official certification.’
The anti-halal certification movement received a kick-along earlier this year when Today Tonight included a segment on halal certification in March, featuring a Halal Choices activist ‘exposing’ the fact that some products that are halal certified don’t mention it on their packaging.
The anti-halal campaign was lent some apparent legitimacy by an article published in the right-leaning academic journal Quadrant in May by Antonia Newtown, that claimed halal certification was part of worldwide domination plan by Muslim clerics.
‘As the Byron Bay Cookie Company, Cadbury and Purina Catfood, and hundreds of other non-Muslim companies are finding out, Australians have started to notice manufacturers’ amenable attitude to the suggestion made by certification bodies regarding potential Muslim buyers of their products, both in Australia and in Muslim countries, should they sign up and pay up. Research by interested citizens shows that Australians have little choice but to donate to the cause of Islamic expansion and imposition of sharia worldwide because of widespread manufacturers’ compliance with the scheme,’ she wrote.
The writer’s name may be unfamiliar to regular readers of Quandrant, and for good reason: it is the pseudonym of a Melbourne-based contributor who claimed her desire for anonymity ‘reflects her frequent travels in the Muslim world’.
In October last year, News Ltd published an article claiming that the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), which authorises independent halal certifiers in Australia, was ‘dictating how much Australian companies must pay to have their food certified as halal’.
The article maintained that MUI was ‘raising money for Islamic schools and mosques by forcing Australian businesses to pay an inflated religious levy on meat exports’.
It also claimed the MUI had expelled three Australian certifiers of Halal meat – even ordering one to stop doing business because it was charging less than its rivals.
Little evidence was supplied for these claims other than a comment by MUI chairman Amidhan Shaberah that ‘we have to standardise the charge to avoid any unfair competition between certifiers’.