The requirements for converting to the world's Abrahamic religions vary by faith. Would-be Christians need nothing more than the will to do so and possibly a baptism. Prospective Jews must be circumcised (well, dudes do) and immersed in a ritual bath, sometimes after being refused three times by a rabbi. Soon-to-be Muslims, meanwhile, only need to recite one of the most famous phrases in the Islamic vocabulary: the shahada, a short creed that affirms the oneness of God.
But if you believe one far-right Swedish politician who clearly did not major in comparative religion, converting to Islam is now easier than ever! All you have to do is eat halal meat—and you don't even have to know it.
"You become a Muslim if you eat halal meat," said Michael Öhman, a leading member of the nationalist Sweden Democrats party, to local newspaper Sala Allehanda this week. Yes, with a straight face.
You see, Öhman and his fellow Sweden Democrats in the small town of Heby want to ban halal meat from schools, arguing that the practice of halal slaughter runs counter to Swedish animal protection laws. (The Swedish Board of Agriculture assures that it doesn't.) According to The Local Sweden, halal meat is currently being served to only two students, both of whom requested it.
But putting the suffering of animals aside, Öhman is apparently more convinced of halal meat's magical powers to suddenly turn anyone who consumes it into a Muslim.
Seriously. The interviewer at Sala Allehanda asked Öhman to clarify if he thought that halal meat was magical. "Yes. This is precisely what we have warned of," Öhman continued. "They sneak halal in everywhere."
Imagine that! A bit of halal chicken falling into your sandwich, and boom: You find yourself bowing in prayer five times a day, head pointed toward Mecca. Throw in a bit of halal beef and you suddenly know Surat Al-Baqarah backwards.
Öhman has also argued that halal meat shouldn't be served in schools because of church-state separations in oh-so-progressive Sweden. But the Skolinspektionen, or Swedish School Inspectorate, disagreed, telling Sala Allehanda that while "the school should be non-denominational," the practice of eating halal meat "is not a confession of faith."
Apparently the Skolinspektionen didn't get the memo that Muslim meat is magic.