British Muslims oppose FAWC recommendation

10 Jun 2003

British Muslims oppose FAWC recommendation to repeal the current religious exemption for slaughter without pre-stunning.

British Muslims strongly oppose the recommendations made in the report of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), entitled `Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing’ which has been published today. It recommends that the government introduce legislation to ban the provision for the religious slaughter of animals. This is unacceptable to British Muslims as it interferes with freedom to practice religion, enshrined in the Human Rights Act.

· The method and procedure for slaughter of animals for food is set in the Islamic religious Code of Practice

· Current UK legislation allows us to practice this Code (Statutory Instrument 1995, No. 731: The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995)

· The arguments and considerations (Divine law) that led to the legislation in 1995 remain unchanged. Hence no change in law is warranted.

· We support measures to ensure that all aspects of current legislation are fully implemented.

The following observations and the emerging scientific evidence strengthen the belief of British Muslims that the Islamic method of slaughter (killing) of animals for food is a humane and safe method.

· The religious Code of Practice (prescribed over 1400 years ago) includes basic principles of Animal Welfare (rearing, grazing, feeding, ensuring animals are healthy and uninjured, prohibition to slaughter in front of other animals due for slaughter, use of very sharp knife, severing completely both carotid and jugular arteries etc).

· Many of these principles have been incorporated in UK legislation relatively recently. Naturally we support and fully endorse the inclusion of these principles in the statute books. We would urge the government and all those who promote the concept of Animal Welfare to ensure that these principles are monitored rigorously to ensure full compliance.

· Stunning before slaughter, however, is a practice that contravenes our religious Code of Practice. We are therefore against it. We are encouraged by the assurance given by Mr Elliot Morley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, DEFRA that the Government is aware of the importance of slaughter practices to religious groups, particularly Jewish and Muslim, and has been working with them over the years on matters of animal welfare. That involvement has been constructive and is much valued. He states that the views of these communities will be fully taken into account now the FAWC recommendations have been received.

· Apart from contravening our Religious Code, pre-slaughter stunning is unacceptable because it:

o Subjects the animals twice, to pain and trauma

o Retains blood – consumption of blood is prohibited in Islam

o Is a risk to human health and safety, emerging evidence of increasing the risk of vCJD

· A number of methods of pre-slaughter stunning have been described. Several of these methods have been either discontinued or banned by EU or UK initiatives because of emerging evidence that they cause more pain to animals or result in human health hazard.

· Published scientific studies from Germany (Schultz et al) show that pre-slaughter stunning causes more pain and suffering to the animal than slaughter without stunning (the Islamic method).

· This is backed by the description of those who have visited slaughterhouses and are therefore not convinced that pre-slaughter stunning is humane. Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid gives a graphic account of the animals in obvious distress despite stunning (see letter in the Times, 17th May 2003)[1]

The Muslim Council of Britain therefore recommend that the Islamic method of slaughter be universally adopted. We urge the government to ban stunning in consideration of animal welfare as well as human health aspects.

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Note to editors:

[1] “As to conventional British slaughter, I have personally visited six slaughterhouses and seen, for instance, pigs shackled upside down by one leg, their throats slashed and gushing blood. I’ve seen them slip from their shackles and crash on to the concrete, thrashing desperately and with blood pouring from their throat wound. This is `humane slaughter’. …….. I don’t believe that stunning is remotely effective. ……… I’ve seen animals kick and writhe while shackled – after stunning – and am convinced they are conscious.”

[2] For further information on this subject please refer to the MCB Dossier on Religious Slaughter and the Welfare of Animals at www.mcb.org.uk/animals.html

For further information please contact: Dr Shuja Shafi, Chair of the MCB Health & Medical Committee: 0798 0018 948, msshafi1@aol.com or Dr A Majid Katme, Spokesman on Halal meat and food for the MCB: 07944 240 622, akatme@hotmail.com

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