Australia: Halal food dishing out radical change in society

By Bruce McDougall, The Daily Telegraph

AustraliaHALAL food is now sold at a dozen McDonald’s restaurants and bacon is off the menu at some KFC outlets to accommodate the religious sensitivities of Australia’s growing Muslim population.

The Muslim population has soared by 40 per cent to 476,291 in just five years – paving the way for a building program of schools, mosques and prayer rooms in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

Even the country’s biggest sports stadiums, including ANZ Stadium and the MCG, have moved to offer multi-faith prayer rooms for devout Muslims.

A KFC spokesman yesterday said three of its restaurants, including two at Bankstown and Punchbowl, are certified to sell halal food prepared in a way that is acceptable to Muslims.

“KFC is mindful of responding to customer demand and cultural sensitivities in a balanced way,” the spokesman said.

Eight McDonald’s restaurants in Sydney and four in Melbourne offer halal food but, unlike some KFC outlets, they have not taken bacon off the menu.

“We are pleased to be able to offer halal menu items in restaurants where there is strong demand from the local community,” media relations manager Skye Oxenham-Lupul said.

“Our halal restaurants also provide non-halal menu items, however modified storage and food preparation procedures have been implemented to ensure that correct segregation is maintained.”

Figures from the 2011 census show a long-term decline in the number of Australians who identify as Christians – down from 89 per cent in 1976 to 61 per cent in 2011.

But it is the push for official recognition of sharia law that worried many Australians who made submissions to the federal parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism.

More than 200 submissions to the inquiry raised concerns about or discussed the question of Islam in Australia.