The Politics of Skinning a Cow and Halal

Note: This article does not contain graphic images, but it does describe slaughter practices.

Sharia law halal practices require that an animal be alive and conscious when its throat is cut, so that it is bled out alive. Specifically, Halal does not allow red meat animals like cows to be stunned into unconsciousness before their throats are cut. The Canadian Islamic organization representing halal methods says

the most important halal, sharia law criteria is: “No stunning for red meat.” 

However, in most of the western world, non-stun slaughter is considered cruel and should be banned according to animal welfare experts.

The no-stun sharia law ritual is opposed even by the multi-culturally sensitive Canadian Veterinary Association who opposes it based on the scientifically proven fact that animals slaughtered without first being stunned, causes preventable pain to the animal. It is also banned in countries that are otherwise bastions of tolerance like Norway and Sweden, because it is proven cruel treatment of animals.

In the UK there have been protests as well including because halal meat is ending up in grocery stores without the Halal label. Therefore, unsuspecting customers, who are not Islamic, end up buying and  eating meat that has not been treated in the humane methods we trust our grocery stores to provide; and, it is meat which has had a Sharia Islamic prayer said over it.

This selling of non-stun halal slaughtered meat without identifying it as such, or at least in an obvious way, happens all over Canada today, particularly in universities and hospitals. Only 3.2% of Canada’s population is Muslim, and of those not everyone practices non-stun sharia law slaughter.

There are a handful of well positioned Muslim activists in the Liberal governments trying to force this cruel treatment of animals onto the rest of us. So, it was shocking to actually see, but not surprising when a video surfaced in 2018 of what appeared to be the live skinning of a cow during Eid in Halton, On. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ontario SPCA are actively investigating (from a 2018 blog post).

There are lots of questions. Questions such as why this video depicting such a horrific scene of cruelty was made and circulated in the first place by Isalmists during Eid, and the intention behind it; and, questions in relation to the illegalities of what happened in Milton.

The Ministry of Agriculture clearly indicates that no animal can be slaughtered except in the meat processing facilities identified by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Halton Police commented that the skinning occurred at a make-shift mosque, but there are no mosques listed in the Ministry of Agriculture’s list of meat processing plants. So, if Halton Police are correct, this incident was illegal to start with. As the police indicated, the “meat handling” process side of this incident is still being investigated.

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If a “make-shift” mosque was ever permitted to be a “meat processing plant”, backyard slaughters would become the norm. In Canada, based on our existing laws and active support for organizations like the SPCA, it is unimaginable that this would ever become law.

What may be even more disturbing is what we don’t see happening at the “make-shift” mosque. That is, we don’t see what led up to the video scene depicted to us as the backyard skinning of a cow upside down, and with her legs spread out on a contraption. Here is a link to the video, but WARNING it is very disturbing to most people.

It is that contraption, according to Prof Temple Grandin a world expert known for her unusual gifting to understand cows at their essence, that is particularly cruel. She writes: 

From an animal welfare standpoint, the major concern during ritual (religious) slaughter are the stressful and cruel methods of restraint (holding) that are used in some plants. Progressive slaughter plants use devices to hold the animal in a comfortable, upright position. Unfortunately, there are some plants which use cruel methods of restraint such as hanging live animals upside down.  

According to a massive number of veterinarians including the Canadian Veterinarians Associationand many countries who have banned the slaughter of animals without first stunning the animal into unconsciousness, the halal non-stun slaughter of animals is a cruel death. These organizations and many countries demand that the animals must be first pre-stunned by trained experts, regardless of religious rituals.

Prof Grandin says that there is a distinct difference between the experience of sheep and cows, which leaves cows horribly, far more vulnerable in the Halal practice which forbids pre-stunning before their throats are cut.

Prof Grandin, the world’s expert on cows, states that non-stun halal slaughter causes cows in particular to experience an agony of pain and fear as they are bled out since cows’ consciousness goes on much longer than for sheep.

Cows are also most likely to experience the extreme pain and fear of a botched attempt to cut their throat given their girth and greater ability to fight back than sheep.

An animal welfare expert on Global Radio said that based on what we can see in the video, the head movement of the Halton cow indicated the cow was alive when it was skinned. Some have said that it is the movement of the contraption on which the cow is hung that is causing the appearance of the cow’s head to move.

This is why we cannot have backyard or “make-shift” mosque slaughters. Animal slaughter must remain under humane conditions, and under the control of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture with oversight by organizations like the SPCA and the Police.

Knife-happy guys in a backyard are not experts and have not been trained and/or don’t have the temperament for the humane treatment of animals. Even designated meat processing plants must all be routinely monitored for animal abuse, which is found more often that it should. Certainly, the handfuls of Islamists who don’t believe in pre-stunning to start with, cannot be left to their discretion as to whether the animals are unconscious.

This video gave us a window into the horror of what would happen in backyards if handfuls of Islamist activists were allowed free reign to not only slaughter, but to slaughter cows without pre-stunning. As the below Islamist writes of this entirely voluntary Islamic practice, it could easily “degenerate to wanton cruelty”.

there need to be rules to both protect animals and to impart a higher spiritual significance to an act that could easily degenerate to wanton cruelty..We’re not living 1400 years ago, and whether some of us like it or not, the world is changing…For those who need to take a life in order to survive, then let them do so humbly and with respect for the life they are forced to take, showing as much mercy and compassion as humanely possible in an otherwise regrettable situation.

Well said.

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