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Is your family eating Halal meat?

Article by : Arabian Woman

Late last year, Animals Australia and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted an extensive investigation in the Middle East into the handling and slaughter of Australian exported animals. The results were horrific.

Each year, countries in the Middle East and North Africa import almost four million animals from Australia. These animals, mainly sheep and cattle, are transported in huge containers-type ships – each one like a floating multi-storey car park.However, during these grueling journeys, some of which take up to 3 weeks, tens of thousand of the animals die through stress, injuries, illnesses and disease. Many of the sheep exported from Australia have been sold for slaughter because they are older and their wool production has declined.

Because they have already endured numerous stresses related to the Australian wool industry, they are more likely to suffer the extremes of a prolonged sea voyage, or to perish at sea. The animals are brought into countries where there is either no animal welfare legislation whatsoever or where, if such legislation exists, it is not enforced – a simple fact which is often overlooked.Those who do survive the hellish trip are then subjected to handling and slaughter methods upon their arrival that are neither acceptable under Islamic law nor legal in Australia, the United States or Europe.

The suffering of all animals shipped for live export is despicable, yet the conditions of animals exported from Australia to the Middle East and North Africa are particularly horrendous, due to the sheer length of the journey and conditions of slaughter. On board transport ships, sheep and cattle can become stuck in accumulating faeces, suffer from smothering due to overcrowding, from stress, starvation because they do not recognize the food pellets or are too sick to eat, extreme temperature and rough handling which cause injury.

The reported mortality rate numbers in the tens of thousands. On the livestock vessel Al Kuwait, which traveled from Australia to Kuwait City in November 2003, approximately 100 seemingly “strong and healthy” Australian sheep died during the 14 day voyage. This was no isolated incident. During another voyage, conducted between August and October of 2003, more then 50,000 sheep suffered aboard the MV Cormo Express when the Saudi Arabian government refused to accept the sheep because many of them were believed to be carrying an infectious disease.

After nearly two months aboard the ship, with little food and water, often in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, the African nation of Eritrea, under duress from the Australian government, accepted the small percentage of surviving sheep for slaughter. One of many such incidents, these examples clearly demonstrate the lack of animal welfare standards in the regions livestock industry. The conditions within slaughterhouses in the region are equally atrocious. In recent years, Cairo's Bassatin slaughter house has come under heavy criticism for it's mistreatment of animals.

Investigations conducted in 2001 resulted in the Australian industry paying for installation of slaughter restraining box of Australian cattle and pledges to increase monitoring of animal handling. Further investigations conducted by Egyptian born veterinarian Dr Petra Sidhom in March 2004, placed severe pressure on the Australian live export industry to justify exporting animals to this facility, because the restraint box, installed in 2003, was not being used, and the horrific animal abuses, such as slashing the tendons in the legs of calm animals, had not stopped. This kind of cruelty can still be seen and has been continuously documented in Egypt.In Kuwait, severe cruelty to animals has been documented, with investigation taking place between 2004 and 2006.

Initially, Animals Australia and the UK-based Compassion in World Farming conducted an investigation. The terrible slaughter and handling practices documented in the municipal slaughterhouse were shown on Australian television. Twenty-four hours later, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) announced a four-day animal handling workshop. Although MLA's Middle East veterinary representative, Dr Nigel Brown, talked about the success of this workshop, no changes in slaughterhouse policies and procedures were implemented. In Kuwait, animals continue to suffer in horrifying ways, with animals being gouged in their eyes; slaughtered whilst still fully conscious and in full view of one another.

Is it Halal?
There no doubt that that the treatment of the Australian sheep and cattle imported to the Middle East is still abysmally cruel. These procedures blatantly contradict what is required by Islamic teachings. In fact, the meat we eat is clearly not Halal, but Haram. Nadia Monatsser, an Egyptian Muslim and member of PETA and the Egyptian Society of Animal friends also questions whether the meat we eat is truly Halal.

She explains, “It is clear that Allah's messenger Muhammad (pbuh) is a figure of love, mercy, kindness and compassion to every Muslim. So it is shocking that this undercover investigation has revealed Muslims slaughtering God's creatures without mercy or compassion, in contravention of teachings in the Quran and Muhammad's Hadith.”“Every Sura, except one, in the Quran begins with the words ‘Allah is merciful and compassionate'. There are plenty of examples in the Quran to show how Allah is compassionate and merciful to animals. For example:- No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother which he desires for himself. God will not be affectionate to that man who is not affectionate to God's creatures.- There is not an animal that lives on earth, nor being that flies, that is not part of a community like you...They shall be gathered to the Lord in the end.

Prophet Muhammad repeatedly forbade cruelty to animals:

The Holy prophet once said to a man who was sharpening his knife in the presence of the animal he was about to slaughter:

‘Do you intend inflicting death on the animal twice: once by sharpening the knife in front of its sight; and once by cutting its throat?'”

Nadia also lists some rules that govern whether or not meat is Halal.
1. The animal should not be cruelly transported, handled or dragged to the pace of slaughter.
2. The animal should preferably be fed and given water before slaughter.
3. The animal should be laid down as calmly as possible and not be blindfolded during the slaughter and not slaughtered in the presence of another animal.
4. When bringing the second animal for slaughtering, the blood of the first animal should be washed away form the spot.
5. The knife should not be sharpened in the presence of the animal while it has been laid down ready for slaughter.
6. The animal should be slaughtered as quickly and professionally as possible.
7. The animal should not be skinned or dismembered while there is some movement in the body.

If one were to reject these live exports, there are over 120 abattoirs in Australia with fully approved Halal certified programs, leaving no excuse for increased trade in processed meat products to the Middle East. In these abattoirs, the slaughter of each animal is overseen by Muslim officials whose job it is to oversee the stunning of sheep, using electrical head stunning prior to the sheep's throat being cut. The practice is both humane and consistent with Halal requirements.

No Response
In March, PETA sent out urgent letters and footage of the investigations to the agriculture ministers of Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, urging them to stop importing live animals form Australia and accept shipments of chilled meat instead. To date, none of the ministers have responded.

In conclusion, expressing compassion towards animals should be a main concern of any advanced country. Similarly, shouldn't consideration for the environment and animals should be a priority when deciding on any governmental policy? Moreover, the conduct at these abattoirs seemingly flies in the face of the Holy Quran, which states: “there is not an animal that lives on the earth, but they are communities like you”.

Why Should We Buy Frozen and Chilled Carcass Imports?
- The Middle East is more than ready and able to import chilled and frozen products in the absence of live-animal imports.
- Australian meat works can slaughter livestock in accordance with Islamic law, and has developed a significant trade in supplying Halal-certified meat products throughout the world.
- Lack of refrigeration is not a barrier to increased frozen carcass exports to Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
- No degree of preparation of standards or any other actions short of a complete ban can ensure animals well being during live export.
- Frozen and chilled carcass imports from Australia come with a stamp that certifies them as Halal-compliant products.

Courtesy : Arabian Woman

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