Translated by Esther
France: 57% of Muslims regularly buy halal
The idea that supply
drives demand may sound counter-intuitive, but as far as religious
matters go, that is certainly true for the Jewish community.
Meanwhile, the Swedish Veterinary Association and
the Swedish agricultural minister Eskil Erlandsson, are concerned that
halal meat is making its way into Sweden. EU regulations allow for
slaughter without stunning, and Sweden is the only one who got an
exception. Eskil Erlandsson recommends that Swedish consumers should
buy meat only from countries which stun their animals, and demand
certification from the dealers.
Many Muslims and Jews accept
meat from animals which were stunned prior to slaughter.
Swedish-produced halal meat fulfills the Swedish requirements.
Johan Beck-Friis of the Swedish Veterinary Association says this is not
an issue of freedom of religion, but rather of animal welfare. Just as
we do not accept female genital mutilation or corporal punishments,
there is no reason to accept animals suffering in a manner contrary to
Swedish law. They demand clear labeling of whether an animal was
stunned before slaughter.
He says that in September EU
veterinary experts and ministers met in the basement of a Brussels
slaughterhouse. There he saw that the cattle were being slaughtered
without stunning, to be sold as halal meat. The slaughterhouse foreman
said that 100% of the sheep and many of the cows – probably all – were
slaughtered in such a way. All this while the EU politicians were
discussing animal welfare a floor below them. Johan Beck-Friis says
he’s not surprised that Swedish importers don’t check their meat, since
he doesn’t think they have any ambition to do so.
to an Ifop study, close to 60% of Muslims routinely buy ritually
In religious matters, supply creates demand.
Since they can easily buy ritually slaughtered meat, Muslims are eating
more every day. Close to 60% routinely buy Muslim meat, according to a
new survey conducted by Ifop. Another 15% said they do so ‘most of the
time’. In total, three quarters of the sample, representative of
Muslims living in France, whether foreigners or French, say they eat
The survey, though limited, provides an outline of a
well-known market. Since halal isn’t managed by a central
organization, and is taken over by various branches, multiple
certifiers and a distribution network which is still traditional despite
its rapid expansion. This boom is largely based on the elderly and in
particular pensioners. The first generation immigrants, who hadn’t
eaten halal in the past due to lack of suppliers, are now the premier
customers of religious and exotic products. They’re recreating the
eating pattens of their countries of origin, re-Islamisizing their
meals. Among those, traditions are meeting up with religious practice,
Jérôme Fourquet of Ifop says that among the
following generations, behavior is individualized. Most believers
obviously buy certified products, constantly demanding more
certification. But consumption is also an identity rite: 44% of those
who never go to a mosque, always eat halal. Especially since halal
snacks are available everywhere, competing with fast-food. Less than
half of 3rd generation Muslims say they routines eat halal meat. The
Ifop expert says that the younger, more urban and more educated one is,
they attach less importance to halal standards. The Paris region, which
has more professionals and children of immigrants, has less halal-food
followers. Conversely, 84% say they eat halal in the north-east, and
82% in the south-west. A predominance of halal which yet remains to be
explained. The smaller the town, the more food is communal. Finally,
consumption varies dramatically based on country of origin.
product lines develop, families buy sweets, ready-made meals.. and are
limited only if the price is deemed high. When they do not buy halal,
they pay close attention to the ingredients. Sites for Muslim consumers
post letters demanding details on ingredients, sometimes surfing on the
rumors. Pork is particularly ‘hunted’, as is alcohol.
halal becoming common at home, 57% of Muslims interviewed, say they mind
when they have to eat non-religious food in the cafeteria, restaurant
or by friends. Young people are more open, but still 45% regret the
absence of halal food. The imam of Bordeaux, Tariq Oubrou, says one can
manage in any circumstances, and don’t have to eat the meat, for
example. He advocates a discrete practice, which doesn’t separate from
others. But the success of halal is based as much on religious
tradition as it is on identity-rites being observed more widely. About
25% of respondents support a boycott of ‘products of large companies,
American for example, to protest their attitudes or that of their
government vis-a-vis Islam and Muslim countries.