I have no problem with labelling food stuffs so that the consumer knows what they’re getting. We’ve had heart-friendly foods, gluten-free foods, kosher food, diabetic-friendly, low-sugar, low-fat, peanut-free and other such labels for ages now and that’s fine with me. I, therefore, don’t get my knickers in a knot with the concept of halal food. There’s nothing sinister about it; it’s just the Muslim version of kosher. (And, there is no proof that money raised by getting a halal certification is going to terrorists, any more than money raised by kosher certification goes to Zionists, or heart-friendly certification goes to on-line dating companies.)

Halal (acceptable), means that the food doesn’t contain alcohol, or any product derived from a pig, and has been ritually slaughtered according to halal specification. It, therefore, has been approved by an Imam for consumption by a Muslim. Contrary to one of the popular theories floating about the internet, we can all eat halal food and enjoy it.

Although, I do have a couple of problems, based on my own ethics.

1) There seems to be a plethora of halal certifications for food that, by its very nature, shouldn’t require any certification; eg: cheese, vegetables, etc. Some halal certifications seem to be a purely fund-raising exercise but, I could be simplifying the issue and am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

2) The form of ritual slaughter is the same as it occurred back when Mohammed first laid down the rules in the 7th century. The idea (similar to kosher foods) is to drain all the blood out of the animal. Back then, everyone killed animals fairly similarly, with no thought as to how the animal was treated apart from getting it killed. These days, here in Australia (and many, many other nations) we have a law that requires the animal to be stunned before slaughter, so as to reduce its suffering. I don’t see why Muslim slaughter-men can’t be required to do the same for their animals. Therefore, I could never bring myself to eat any halal meat even though I know there are people who can’t see why I’d be bothered.

So…why did I get my knickers in a knot about halal-certified Easter eggs back in April? After all, there’s no ritual slaughter involved in the making of chocolate. Would I begrudge a bit of chocolate to a Muslim child? No, of course not. There are plenty of other sorts of non-Christians who enjoy the treat. Have at it, I say.

What raised my ire is that:

1) Muslims don’t celebrate Easter. They believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified – they believe Allah rescued him at the last minute and put someone else in his place – and, therefore, they definitely don’t believe in the resurrection. So, why should a chocolate company pay for halal certification of a food that is specifically linked to this Christian religious festival, which Muslims don’t celebrate?

2) In the Middle East a faction of Islam is currently slaughtering any Christian – man, woman or child – that they can lay their hands on. In Iraq and Syria, Christian communities that can trace their heritage back to the late first and early second century are being systematically wiped out. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call this a form of genocide. Thousands upon thousands have been killed. Many of them were beheaded (including children) with a small knife, which by its very size required minutes of hacking, not one clean swipe with a sword or guillotine. There was not one ounce of mercy in those killings. I saw an interview on television, recently, of a captured IS fighter. He said that he used a blunt knife so as to prolong the victim’s suffering.

Is it any wonder that I, a Christian, would be just a tad offended that foods linked to the celebration of the most significant event in our faith, has been certified as halal for Muslims, when so many of our people are being killed on a daily basis by factions of that faith? (Knickers definitely knotted.)

Now, I know that 99% of Muslims in this country are appalled by what IS, Boko Haram and Al Shabab are doing. I know that they don’t support them in any way. (This alone would mean that if IS came here, those same moderates would also be targetted.) I can live side by side with them quite happily, thank you. We have to stop demonising every Muslim because of the radical few. It is an understandable reaction, coming out of fear and disgust, but it is not rational and it is definitely not helpful!

Conclusion: stop passing on the uninformed vitriolic hyperbole surrounding the whole halal thing and put your brain back into gear. Mercy is always better than cruelty. Love is always more powerful than hate. Stop harassing Muslim people. If all we can do is be hateful and merciless then, in our hearts, we are no different to the terrorists we fear.