According of the Swiss law, it is prohibited to slaughter the animals according to Islamic ritual. But being unhappy to lose such a great market, many slaughterhouses in Switzerland started to do it with a small change in the ritual which has been accepted by the Imam of Lausanne; electrocuting the animal to make it dizzy and while still alive, cutting his neck.
In Switzerland the practice of ritual slaughter – without stunning the animal before it bleeds to death – has been outlawed since 1978, under animal protection legislation.
However, as the freedom of religion and faith of both the Islamic and Jewish communities is set out in the Swiss Constitution, the import of ritual slaughter meat from other countries is permitted.
This is an issue that has been addressed by Coop. It pointed out in a statement when it launched its range of halal-labelled products that, “the animals are stunned before being slaughtered”.
In this way no Swiss laws are broken, the supermarket chain said. The only difference to the normal process is, “the presence of a person of the Muslim faith at the moment of slaughtering”.
This is a decision which has caused puzzlement among some Muslims, who find it difficult to consider the products truly halal. There are also others who cannot conceive of buying such items in stores which also sell pork and alcohol.
In addition, there are other issues. “There are people for whom any kind of meat which is not pork is allowed,” Kaba said.
This also applies to many butchers and restaurants which say they offer halal food when in reality they do not, he added.