Thursday, May 11, 2006

Green Party and ritual slaughter

Abattage rituel halal sans étourdissement
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If you'd like to have an idea of what ritual slaughter of animals without pre-stunning is, watch the above video.

The first animal in the video is slaughtered according to the EU law, i.e. with a captive bolt which is shot into the brain. Brain death is virtually instantaneous. The animals are then hung by the hind legs, the throat is slit and the blood is allowed to drain out.

The other animals on the video are killed in the ritual halal and kosher way, still permitted as exemptions to humane slaughter laws in most western countries, with their throat cut without prior stunning. The time they take to die while still fully conscious and in excruciating agony can be up to 2 minutes. If an occlusion occurs, preventing the blood draining from the brain, the animal remains conscious for a considerable time.

One user of this website has sent this e-mail to the Policy Development Coordinator of the Green Party:

“I'm interested to know what is the Green Party's policy regarding ritual slaughter, ie halal and kosher.”

The following correspondence has ensued.

Green Party

“At the moment the Green Party has no official policy on ritual slaughter, although I am aware that our animal rights groups has been discussing the issue in order to take a policy to our conference for agreement.

“However I think it is fair to say that most of us feel that it is incumbent on those who want to eat meat to be responsible for causing the animal as little suffering as possible and are aware that halal and kosher slaughtering methods are attacked for being particularly cruel. But equally, some argue that the techniques used mean the animals die more quickly than with conventional slaughter.
“Rules state that the knife must be sharpened between each killing and the animal must be cut with one stroke from ear to ear and never within sight of another animal.

“Care must be taken not to pick on one method and criticise it when there are faults in all methods and perhaps the focus should be on improving conditions in slaughterhouses.

Brian Heatley
Policy Development Coordinator
The Green Party”


“I find the position of the Green Party on this matter less than satisfactory.

“I resent the implication contained in ’Care must be taken not to pick on one method and criticise it’.

“I don't wish to ’pick on’ any one method.

“I am a long-standing vegetarian (almost vegan) and animal rights activist, and have been throughout all my life.

“Of course there are faults in all methods of slaughter, as you euphemistically put it. Slaughtering animals for food is murder, nothing less.

“Which is why your party's policy on this is hypocritical.

“The Green Party website says:

’Real Progress towards a better society means respecting the right of animals not to suffer. We believe that Real Progress is not farm animals growing faster than their hearts can stand or cows producing drugs instead of milk. That's not progress.

’Greens oppose factory farming and advocate banning cruel live exports.’

“This creates an ambiguity, by giving people the impression that you support animal rights (that ‘the right of animals not to suffer’ phrase), whereas in fact you don't do that at all.

“There is a right which is just as basic as freedom from suffering, and that is the right to life.

“And even the right of animals not to suffer, which you theoretically accept, cannot be respected by simply opposing factory facrming and cruel live exports.

“A lot of animal suffering is a necessary part of any form of rearing animals for the slaughterhouse.

“If you really respected the right of animals not to suffer, you would oppose it in all its forms.

“Its abolition is a long-term goal, and perhaps not realistic in the near future.

“But banning ritual slaughter is achievable (Sweden has done it), that is why your policy (or lack of) on this is particularly unexcusable.

“The reasons you give for justifying it sound more like excuses than real reasons.

“’Some argue’ that it's better, you say. But who?

“Exactly the people who have a vested interest in maintaining it.

“Would you prefer to have surgery performed on you while conscious and ‘more quickly’, as you put it, or would you rather be made unconscious first?

“Here is a description of ritual slaughter (from Vegan Outreach website):

“‘Ritual slaughter – Animals are fully conscious when their carotid arteries are cut. This is supposed to cause unconsciousness within seconds, but because of blood flow through the vertebral arteries in the back of the neck, some animals can remain conscious as they bleed for up to a minute. Additionally, Temple Grandin, PhD notes “Unfortunately, there are some plants which use cruel methods of restraint such as hanging live animals upside down.” This can cause broken bones as the heavy animal hangs by a chain attached to one leg.’

“And this (from Animal Aid website):

‘Nor can I stomach hearing protagonists of religious slaughter claiming their method is swift and painless - when the evidence shows that animals can take minutes to die, are often cut about the neck numerous times rather than the prescribed one clean cut; and young calves can actually choke to death on their own blood.’

“If, in confronting this issue, you were here dealing with, say, a corporation, a multi-national for example, rather than religious lobbies, would you blindly believe what the corporation says, or wouldn't you be suspicious of its vested interest in the matter?

“Ritual slaughter is actually a remnant of ancient animal sacrifices performed in the past and, in the case of Islam at least, still in the present:

“’When in Mecca kissing the Ka‘aba, it is also incumbent upon pilgrims to kill an animal in the Mina valley on the tenth day of the month of pilgrimage, since Allah, like the Yahweh of the Jews, is believed to enjoy having animals killed for his viewing pleasure. (It is amusing to imagine what will happen if P.E.T.A. and the Animal Liberation Front ever get wind of this. How Muslims would deal with the threat of animal-rights terrorism would be something worth watching closely.) After killing a goat or other suitable sacrificial species (for some reason, dogs and pigs are deemed unsuitable), most pilgrims then betake themselves to Medina (Yathrib), a city located 210 miles north of Mecca, in order to pray at what is claimed to be Mohammed's tomb.’ (from An Atheist's Guide to Mohammedanism webpage,

“It is highly hypocritical of these religious groups to pretend that their method has anything to do with considerations of animal welfare.

“The reason why humane slaughter laws have been introduced throughout Western countries is because they are aimed at preventing suffering.

“Exceptions (or rather loopholes) in those laws, permitting ritual slaughter (including EU directives and national laws in Europe, the USA, Australia), have been introduced only to make happy some ethnic minorities, and certainly NOT for the animals' sake.

“The issue is now particularly important, not in order to ‘pick on’ anything but because the number of halal shops, restaurants, outlets and similar has grown enormously, particularly in the UK, and is bound to grow even further, due to the high number of Muslims in this country, their rate of reproduction (the highest among all groups) and their increasing intransigence in the application of their own laws and prescriptions.

“Even many non-Muslim and non-Jewish Britons who eat meat are more and more unhappy with this situation, because it's a well-known fact that much of halal and kosher meat ends up being bought or served without their knowledge to people who abhor these methods.

“So, there is a growing public opposition to halal and kosher methods of slaughter being allowed in the UK under British law.

“I think that the Green Party should do better than putting its fear of offending minorities (in particular, paranoid and vociferous minorities who are extremely easily offended and see enemies everywhere) above even extremely basic animal welfare.


Green Party

“Thank you for your reply.

“As I said, this is something we are currently considering, and the fact that we are doing so is because many in the party are not happy with the present position. However, we are a democratic party, and our policy can only be changed by our party's conference when a proposal is put before it.

“So I tried to answer your query with our present position, and I can understand why you did not find that satisfactory.



“Thank you.

“I do sincerely hope that the Green Party will change its policy.

“The reason of my e-mail (and perhaps others) is to offer points for reflection and information that can be used by the Green Party in deciding its policy and hopefully change it in the right direction.



David Olivier said...

It is strange that the Green Party response that ritual slaughter may be less cruel than other forms of slaughter doesn't go on to reach the logical conclusion of that belief. For if indeed ritual slaughter *is* less painful than the usual forms of slaughter, then it should be made mandatory for all slaughter. Those who say that it is OK to kill animals to eat them, but that they should be killed by the least painful way possible, cannot escape that conclusion.

However, the idea that ritual slaughter may be less painful than "normal" slaughter is never given in defense of making it mandatory for all. It is only given in defense of the right for certain groups to use it.

So either those who use the argument should abandon it altogether, or should call for it to be generalized. There is no logic in their usual attitude.

Anonymous said...

Read the findings of the Farm Animal Welfare Council on this very subject; particularly Recommendation 201 on page 44
"Council considers that slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and that the Government should repeal the current exemption."

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that the slaughter in the video is NOT Halal as Halal slaughter has to follow certain guidelines:
No animal must see another being slaughtered.
No animal should see the knife, so it should be hidden from view and then used in one quick stroke before the animal has time to know what is happening.
The knife has to be extremely sharp so death is instantaneous in one quick stroke.
The video also does not show accurately the whole stunning process as many animals are not stunned correctly and suffer pain from stunning before they are eventually slaughtered.

Anonymous said...

See the link for more on religious slaughter:

Personally I think that there is a case for banning all slaughter of beef, as cows appear to be less able to be rendered unconscious quickly - and they also consume far more resources than other animals.

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