French Muslims suprised by first TV advert for halal food

The power of the Islamic purse has broken new ground
in France with the country’s first primetime TV advertisement for halal

By Henry Samuel in Paris

In a surprising development for a country poised to ban the burka,
the advert for the first time directly targets France’s five million
Muslims, offering them microwaveable paella, lasagna and shepherd’s pie
prepared in accordance with Islamic law.

To make meat halal or permissible, an animal or poultry has to be slaughtered in a ritual way known as Zibah.

Such adverts had previously been only been shown on Arabic satellite channels viewable in the country.

the advert, broadcast on TF1, France’s most-watched channel, as well as
rival M6 and digital terrestrial channels, a middle class French Muslim
couple rush to a supermarket shelf stocked with Zakia Halal, a brand of
Panzani, the food group, as they seek food with which to break their
fast during Ramadan.

The husband, who is pushing the trolley, says: “Yes, yes, we eat halal”.

“Yes, Zakia halal,” adds his wife, miming a “z” for Zorro.

£260,000 campaign hopes to cash in on a huge halal market estimated to
be worth more than £3 billion this year in France, and which is growing
at 15 per cent per year. According to one recent study by Solis, an
ethnic market research company, almost 94 per cent of French people of
North African descent buy halal products.

Reaction among French
Muslims was a mixture of surprise and incredulity. “It’s the first time
I’ve seen so [many Arabs] in an advert. It proves that Arabs and
Muslims are starting to become an economic force to be reckoned with in
France,” read one posting on the French Muslim website

must have paid TF1 a fortune to show that,” said a second user. “The
director general’s going to get fired tomorrow,” warned a third.

to an Ifop poll released last week, 70 per cent of French Muslims
observe Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year, in which a fast
is held from sunrise to sunset. It began last Friday.

Muslims have been in the spotlight in recent weeks following
controversy over the head-to-toe burka, which President Nicolas Sarkozy
has said is not welcome in France, and the burkini – a cover-all
swimming costume. A French Muslim woman was banned from her local
public swimming pool for wearing one earlier this month.