Mixing Islamophobia with Animal Advocacy

Recently I heard someone make a comment that Halal is a “barbaric” slaughter method. I have heard this comment before and I wanted to take the opportunity to say that ALL so-called “humane” slaughter methods are “barbaric”. Slaughter is inherently barbaric. There’s nothing “humane” about it and even if it were “humane” it would still be unjust. So let’s not single out one kind as if that is worse than others.

We like to tell ourselves there is such a thing as a non-abusive slaughterhouse. Let’s consider the reality.

According to the USDA, it’s common for chickens and turkeys by the millions to be boiled alive during the slaughterhouse process. This is deemed acceptable, as the USDA is about to approve even faster “processing” lines to lessen the likelihood of bacteria.  The “processing” line includes a stunning method which basically causes convulsions for the individual and is suppose to render them unconscious. Because of the pace of these lines, some miss the electric “stunning” bath and neck blade (from struggling upside-down in their leg shackles) and some individuals are boiled alive in the de-feathering (scalding) tank. Think about that for a moment. Boiled alive! (Just like sentient pain-sensitive lobsters are boiled alive.) In addition, when stunning does not work, many individuals still struggling in their shackles are mangled, but not killed, during the throat-slitting process.

“Free-range” hens end up at the same slaughterhouses as any other chicken, where they are often intentionally tortured – hurled against the wall and stomped upon – by frustrated workers in poor working conditions with low pay.I am sentient turkey

Whether “free range’ or factory farmed, young male chicks (“by-products” of the egg industry) are thrown into grinding machines by their millions and ground up alive or they are suffocated. In the process many chicks take up to 20 minutes to die because they have been mangled and not killed.

Just as with “free-range layer hens”, “organic dairy cows” and their calves are transported and slaughtered in the same manner as any other cow or steer. Often, they are confined to a tractor trailer for days of transport, and sometimes through extremely hot or cold weather conditions. Because they are depleted from so much milk production and from genetics designed to maximize milk output, they are often much weaker than “beef cattle” when they arrive at slaughter. Indeed, most of the “downers” – cows too sick to walk – are dairy cows, including dairy cows from “organic” dairies. When they arrive at slaughter, downers are often cruelly prodded with electric prods and/or bulldozed into slaughter, as was displayed earlier in the year on national television in undercover films provided by HSUS. Actual slaughter can be an unimaginably horrific and terrifying experience. Although the cows and steer are supposed to be “stunned” with a captive-bolt gunshot to the skull, this can be difficult for workers to achieve, especially with the rapid pace at which the animals are moved on the line. This can result in the animals being fully awake when they are shackled, hoisted upside down, and cut at the throat. Because cows and steer who are not properly stunned are sometime flailing around at the cutting section of the fast-paced line, they occasionally miss the throat cut or the cut is not sufficient to kill them. Due to production pressure to keep the line moving, these cows and steers will often end up alive at the hide-ripping machine.

Commercially-viable “organic” milk production, regardless of the label it is sold under, is extremely cruel to cows and calves and requires mass-slaughter. “Organic” dairy cows are physically and psychologically broken by the time they reach the slaughterhouse, which can be an unimaginable horror story in itself. Consuming “organic” dairy products – milk, cheese, ice cream, cream cheese, sour cream – simply makes no sense for anyone concerned about the treatment or slaughter of animals. (UVE/Unpopular Vegan Essays “What is wrong with Vegetarianism?”)

Imagine being conscious while having your skin ripped from your body or fracturing your pelvis as you are  hoisted up in shackles on production lines. This is the experience of some cows. Does this sound less barbaric than Halal (or Kosher)?

Young male calves (“by-products” of the dairy industry) some just a few days old are barely able to walk, especially after spending a day or longer without their mother on a slaughterhouse truck. They arrive at the slaughterhouse and are dragged across slaughterhouse floors, as they suck on the fingers of slaughterhouse workers, the stench of blood and horror is all around them. All the while they cry out for their mothers. The veal industry is a “by-product” of the dairy industry.

Millions of pigs are also regularly boiled alive on so-called “humane” slaughterhouse lines due to the fast pace of processing. Hanging upside down in shackles, struggling and screaming for their lives as they are lowered into boiling water. Extreme torture is the best term to describe this.

Does that sound less barbaric than Halal?

So then, why do people focus on the “evils” of Halal killing? What else is there about Halal, other than that it is a way to murder nonhuman animals? The obvious answer is that it is the Islamic religiously-sanctioned method, and in the west, Islamic people, (and those assumed because of their appearance to be Islamic) are targeted for campaigns of hatred and fear, and are subject to discrimination.

When Prof. Deepa Kumar was asked by The Real News Network about Islamophobia and the rise of Islamophobia in the West in recent years. She responded:

Islamophobia is basically the term, the name given to anti-Muslim racism. It is a form of prejudice. And it involves making generalizations about an entire group based on the actions of a few through this mythical understanding of what Islam is supposed to be.

…. [t]he U.S. government, and U.S. imperialism in particular, always needs an enemy. That is, when there is no humanitarian cause, an enemy is an extremely useful way to justify wars abroad, as well as the policing of dissent at home…..

After 9/11……the idea was to drum up this fear of this menacing terrorist enemy, which justified wars all over the world in order to gain the U.S.’s interest in [incompr.] particularly in the oil-rich region in the Middle East.

We witness thinly veiled Islamophobia by many advocates who support the welfare organisation Animals Australia, and their frequent “Ban Live Export” campaigns. In addition, we hear Animals Australia calling for animals to killed in Australia instead of Indonesia as if Australia has non-abusive slaughterhouses.

The fact that complaints about Halal are not simply complaints about killing nonhuman animals becomes very clear, with the absence of similar complaints about Kosher, particularly since Kosher killing is almost identical to Halal killing, both coming from the same religious Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. So if Halal (Islamic) is a target, and Kosher (Jewish) is not, in spite of being nearly identical, what does that say? What it should say it that killing is not the primary issue. The issue is targeting Muslims. (Please note although I mention Kosher because of it’s near identity to Halal, I am not suggesting targeting Jews. I am saying turning concern about nonhuman animals into a covert form of religious/racial discrimination is wrong.)

The exploitation and killing of nonhuman animals should be the issue. I could go on and describe in more detail the slaughterhouse horror, but suffice to say it doesn’t matter if death comes through a knife to the throat, a bolt gun, an assembly-line slasher or boiling tank. It Boiled alivewould not matter if we sang them sweet songs while gently stroking their heads before we cut their throats. It is all wrong.  There is no such thing as “humane” murder and even if there were — as I have said – it would still be unjust.

Let us not claim that one form of animal use is worse than another. Particularly, let us not make such claims as a way to disguise our racism. Let us not make moral distinctions. We are responsible for this killing and so much more violence because we are not vegan. The slaughterhouses would not exist if it were not for us. It is all wrong and must end and that’s why vegan education is so important, because it is not HOW animals are used that is the issue, but THAT they are used that is the problem.

If you are not vegan, NOW is as good a time as any to start. Let’s stop participating in this terrible violence. If we want a nonviolent world, we need to reject all forms of discrimination including speciesism. It starts with us.

If you are not vegan, it’s much easier than you think. Here’s a link to some good vegan resources


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