Halal safe with me, says PM
Published:  03 April, 2014

With the debate about halal slaughter intensifying in recent weeks, Prime Minister David Cameron has declared that as long as he is in power, halal will be safe.

In the wake of Denmark’s ban on non-stun slaughter, Cameron has moved to assure UK Muslims that similar action will not be taken here. However, the reaction from prominent figures in the halal industry has been mixed, with some claiming the statement means little.

Speaking at the Muslim News Awards for Excellence in London, Cameron discussed the topics of religious slaughter and Islamophobia. He said: “Really tackling Islamophobia means making absolutely sure that no Muslim is held back from living their life or reaching their goals, simply because of the faith they follow.

“Soon the food will arrive and you will all be able to eat. Let me make it absolutely clear, that while I am Prime Minister of this country, halal is safe in Britain.”

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, head of certification at the Halal Authority Board, welcomed what he called a ‘brave’ statement from Cameron. He said: “We welcome David Cameron’s comments that halal meat is safe. We believe, and we can prove, that it is the most humane way of slaughtering animals if performed correctly. Those countries that are creeping along the dangerous route to ban religious slaughter will just open up export markets for us in the UK, and those campaigners who are against the principle of religious slaughter need to be educated in animal welfare.”

But Naved Syed, halal adviser to the Yorkshire Association of Asian Businesses, disagreed. He said: “It’s all lip service. He’s just trying to get Muslim votes and say he’s doing something for the Muslim community.

“If he really meant it, why has the government not implemented the Food Standards Agency’s recommended guidelines for halal, first issued in 2003, and then again in 2010? If he can’t even be bothered to do that, then how are we supposed to trust him?”

The halal discussion exploded into public consciousness after Denmark announced a ban on non-stun slaughter in February, with the Scandinavian country’s ministry of agriculture declaring that “animal welfare takes precedence over religion”.

The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) John Blackwell then appealed to the government to consider passing similar legislation, while the Muslim community fiercely defended the practice, with the Sharia Halal Board denouncing Blackwell’s comments as ignorant and disrespectful.