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Question of the Day: What do You Know About Halal?

Both Pauline Hanson and supporters for Reclaim Australia have suggested that halal food funds terrorism. We took to the streets to find out how widespread these beliefs are.

Image via Flickr user Nick Mendez

Halal is back in the news. On Easter Saturday a group calling themselves Reclaim Australia held rallies around the country denouncing all sorts of foreign things, including halal food. But the problem was that they, and a lot of their supporters, don't seem to know what halal actually means. On Monday for example, the Facebook group Boycott Halal Australia got hot and bothered over the idea of Jacob's Creek selling halal wine. So to find out if that's ironic to everyone, or just intellectual snobs, we took to Melbourne's streets. Just how much halal knowledge there is under the average Australian belt?


Aidzee, 44

VICE: Hey Aidzee, what can you tell me about halal?
Aidzee: Halal is a system whereby people of the Muslim faith can guarantee for themselves that what they're eating is of high quality, is pure and is not against the strictures of the faith that is set down in the Koran.

I'm impressed. Now, we're asking because the term is perceived as controversial to some. Another example might be the phrase Allahu Akbar. What does that mean to you?
It depends on context. It means god is great, the greatest is god, and with god greatness is.

What's the first image that comes to your head when you think of this phrase?
The first image that comes to my head is my mate watching his daughter receive a little scroll for graduating year six and the whole family taking pictures and her dad went Allahu Akbar with his hands in the air while there were all hugging each other. The other image that comes to mind, unfortunately, is dickheads with rocket launchers.

If a Muslim family invited you over for dinner and served you halal meat, would you be okay with that?
Totally. In fact when I'm looking for fried chicken I try and find the places with halal meat. It's a little more expensive but it tastes awesome.

Willemijn, 21

Hey Willemijn What is halal?
It's food for people who are Muslim. I think the animal is slaughtered in a way that is in complies with the way Muslim people want it to be.

Do you believe halal meat funds terrorism?
No, I don't think so.


Pauline Hanson seems to think so.
That's quite outrageous I think, really racist. I'm ok with eating halal meat.

Some people aren't so comfortable.
I'm not sure as to why anybody would be uncomfortable eating it. I mean, maybe if you're a big Muslim hater, but apart from that I can't really understand why you wouldn't.

Vegemite is halal, true or false?

No, it's true.
It's true? I had no idea.

Rory Cooke, 44. Rory declined to have his face photographed

What is halal?
My understanding is it's the correct way to slaughter an animal so it's done in a way that is in accordance with the Koran.

Do you believe halal meat funds terrorism?
No. That's just wackiness, it's just like saying KFC funds terrorism. It's completely ridiculous. Just because the more extreme side of one culture eat the same food as the rest of the culture, it doesn't make all of them terrorists.

If a Christian or a Jew slaughtered an animal as directed in the Koran, would the meat still be considered halal?
I would say yes, because I guess halal meat is mass-produced. I doubt whether everyone involved in the industry is of Muslim faith.

You're right, although a lot of Christian butchers process pork along with their other meets. That's not halal.

Joe, 27 and Masha, 20

Hey guys, what do you know about halal?
Joe: It's linked to their culture – the way they kill it they believe the animal doesn't suffer as much.
M: Don't they slit the throat and let it bleed out?


They do. The throat and trachea are slit, then the animal is hung upside down to let all the blood drain out due to the fact that blood is not considered halal. Some countries have banned this type of slaughter. But supporters argue that the knife used is very sharp and the action quick.
M: When you put it that way I can't think of it as humane. I mean if the animal is slowly dying and bleeding then it's in pain. How is that humane?

You're a Muslim starving in the desert and there's nothing else to eat but pork, is it okay then to eat it then?
J: I would say yes
M: Yeah… but I can't imagine that being written up as a rule.

It is a rule, if you're in an extreme situation and it comes down to either eating pork or dying of starvation then it's deemed okay, Allah wants you to live. But let's move on, if I offered you halal meat right now would you be okay with eating it?
J: Yes, of course.
M: Yeah, I've eaten it before.

Callum Evans, 20

Hi Rory, what do you know about halal?
Ah, you'll have to rejig my memory.

In the broadest terms it means anything that is permissible by god. In food, it often means to meat that is prepared in a certain way, approved by God. Would you be cool with eating that?
Yeah, no worries at all. I think anyone should be able to eat whatever they want. Religion for me is about the fundamentals and the core beliefs and values rather than the actual day-to-day proceedings.

Do you think buying halal meat funds terrorism?
No, I really disagree with that statement. Meat cannot have any link toward terrorism, I think terrorism is going to happen regardless of what type of meat is sold or eaten.

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