Here's what was facing me as I sat myself down on the metro the other day, and I couldn't help saying myself: you know, I'm damned if I know what 'Halal', never mind 'proudly and strictly Halal' actually means.
One internet search later (yes, yes, I know..), and this is what I found, extremely crudely put, obviously:
It is a Muslim (religious, faith-based) way of eating meat which follows rules laid out in the book 'The Koran'. The animals must be killed in a specific way, with a very sharp, clean knife, and they should be in good health beforehand. They should be killed by a Muslim. Both the animal and the slaughterer should be facing Mecca, which is a town in Saudi Arabia. If for practical reasons it is not possible to do all or any of the above for each individual animal, as in the case of a factory where many thousands of chickens are slaughtered per hour, for example, the factory should at least have been blessed by a Muslim priest. No animals for consumption in the 'Halal' way should be killed near pigs, which cannot be eaten because of the scavenging nature of the animal and because it closely resembles human meat. There seems to be concern that the animal should not be diseased, dying or indeed dead before the ritual of the throat cutting is done. There does seem to be a big debate though about pre-stunning of an animal before killing to reduce its suffering, as it is supposed to be fully conscious before being killed under Halal rules. The sharp-knifed swift throat-slitting is meant to reduce the animal suffering anyway, according to the Muslims. The advert and the meat company itself appears to have caused a lot of discussion, and it seems like there is a massive 'Halal' market to be exploited by savvy businesses who know how to play their cards right. One interesting ad I discovered was for this same brand designed for the Ramadan period, when Muslims are not supposed to eat during the day. It was a massive back-lit street thing which had an empty table with a white tablecloth during daylight hours. Then at night the lights on the ad would come on to show a table laden with products from the company.
Anyway, that's as far as I got with my reading, and obviously it was internet stuff, so who knows what's true or not. Feel free to correct any mistakes there may well be there.
In any case, it's a fascinating topic, and because we are finding this sort of faith-justified thing on the streets and in our newspapers, easily absorbed by our kids who are far more easily influenced than adults, I think it's important to be aware of it, and to at least decide what we think about it.
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