Interior of a slaughterhouse (Reuters)

DENMARK – The ritual slaughter of animals, Islam’s Zabiha and Judaism’s Shechita are under fire as of February 17th. Denmark has made it a requirement that animals be stunned prior to slaughter, which means religious slaughter is no longer an option. “Animal rights come before religion” was the statement given by Denmark’s Dan Jørgensen, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. However, the reality of the matter is that animal rights come from religion. In regard to animal slaughter houses, animals are given better care when Zabiha and Shechita methods are properly enforced.

IFANCA, the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, is one of the world’s leading halal-certification organizations, certifying over 2200 companies worldwide. Their headquarters are right here in Chicago, but they have a host of representatives throughout other countries, such as Pakistan, Canada, and Singapore. Here’s what Roger Othman, former board member and current Executive Director, had to say on behalf of IFANCA regarding the Zabiha process:

In Islam, all creatures, including plants, should be taken care of in a gentle and caring manner. For consumable animals, they should be cared for from birth to end of life. They must be nourished properly, treated with dignity, and given proper care if they become ill or injured. This gentle treatment must be observed, even at slaughter time. This includes giving them water, treating them gently, not allowing them to see the slaughter knife before they are about to be slaughtered, and not slaughtering an animal in view of the other animals waiting to be slaughtered.

As a result, properly adhering to Zabiha and Shechita methods requires much more regulation and care than simply smacking the animals on the head and calling it a day. The Islamic and Judaic dietary laws require that animals be taken care of throughout their lives. Animals that are cared for by these guidelines are more likely to have “better welfare than a lamb that has to ride on a truck to a slaughter plant,” as Temple Grandin points out, and then zapped into a state of unconsciousness.

Temple Grandin is a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and author of various publications, one being her 2010 book, “Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals.” She designs handling facilities for livestock, which are located throughout the world, in countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Canada. “I have observed that when kosher slaughter of cattle is done well,” she noted in an article, “there is almost no reaction from the animal when the throat is cut.” She adds, “flicking my hand near the animal’s face caused a bigger reaction.”

IFANCA holds the same belief:

If you bump your head or get an electric shock, you feel pain immediately. However, if you cut your finger, you may not feel anything until some time later. Cutting the animal’s neck during slaughter is akin to cutting your finger; it is cutting through skin. The resulting bleeding is rapid enough that it [would] result in death before the animal can feel the pain. However, being hit on the head or electrocuted is something they feel immediately.

Denmark is adjusting the spotlight on the final moments of the animals’ lives—quite literally, the very last moments. In contrast, Zabiha and Shechita focus on the entirety of the animals’ lives, from the moment they are born to the moment they die. The way the animals are treated, what they are fed, and the care they receive are all major parts of the Zabiha and Shechita process.

If the goal of Denmark is to promote and uphold animal rights, then they need to shift their sights to some of the much more heinous offenses taking place within their borders. Here are a few examples:

Bestiality, sexual intercourse between a person and an animal, is legal in Denmark. Not only that, the advertising and publicity of it is shamelessly open. The practice is carried out at places known as “Animal brothels,” where people pay to have sex with animals and have gained popularity throughout the years. People from other countries come to Denmark specifically to visit these brothels, claiming that its much harder to come across them in their own countries. In Michael Booth’s recent book, “Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About The Nordic Miracle,” he states that 5% of Danish men have had sex with animals. Sadly, animals continue to be used as sex toys without any sort of legitimate consequence.

Furthermore, the Nordic Hunters’ Cooperation hosts 600,000 hunters within the Nordic countries and one of its members is the Danish Hunters’ Association (Danmarks Jægerforbunds). Hunting is a recreational activity and has caused the extinction of various species throughout the world. There is no stunning of the animals before they are shot, and shots do not necessarily kill the animals instantaneously and may leave many wounded and helpless.

So why is it that Denmark and other countries are wasting their time focusing on such a small part of a much greater issue? Zabiha and Shechita processes are not banned, per se, but they are illegal if the animal is not stunned prior to slaughter. If, however, stunning causes additional distress and discomfort for the animals, then the countries are too quick to jump on the high horse of animal rights activists.

What countries throughout the world need to focus on is the welfare of its animals, both inside and outside of the slaughter house. Conditions of slaughter houses are often despicable and horrendous, to say the least. It takes time, commitment, and money in order to give animals a healthy and happy life, a standard Zabiha and Shechita methods fully promote. Simply hitting a cow on its head a few minutes before killing it is not and should not be boasted as “upholding animal rights” and should most definitely not be a major cause for concern. Taking care of the animals’ mental and physical health, diet, utilizing the proper equipment, and committing to overall better animal welfare is what needs to be implemented in every country. As one online news source states, “This decision instead appears to targets religious minorities by selectively applying a concern for animal rights.”

Countries shouldn’t be under the impression that Islam and Judaism must be eliminated in order for there to be advancement in animal welfare. The reality of the matter is, Islamic and Judaic methods need to be implemented in order to bring about genuine, un-fabricated animal welfare.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill (an animal), kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters”
Sahih Muslim

 


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


9 COMMENTS

  1. Beautifully said and well put together. There are definitely bigger issues at stake than need to be taken into consideration.

  2. Seriously, halal and kosher methods are soooo much more humane than what most animal slaughter houses are like nowadays. It’s sad how religion is always the target for things like animal abuse, terrorism, etc. etc. People really need a reality check and they need to see that religion is so real and so loving.

  3. Regarding “animal brothels”, the article you have there is 6 years old. Dyrenes Beskyttelse (Animal Protection, the RSPCA of Denmark) actually did a research on this last year, and did not find any evidence that these “animal brothels” actually exists, at least not anylonger. The story goes that it would be something that took place on a couple of farms somewhere far out in the countryside by rednecks, and not some modern urban environment.

    While there is technically no laws against bestiality in Denmark (just like in many American states), there is OTHER animal welfare laws that makes such acts illegal in practise because of the illegal physical injury and stress involved in such acts. People, mainly in animal rights communities has in the past 2 weeks been blowing this way out of proportion, most of it centering on specifically that article from 2008 by an obscure Icelandic online newspaper.

    As for hunting, yes its true that many people hunts in the Nordic countries, but the thing about bestiality has been blown out of proportion and got extremely exaggerated by people wanting attention.

    • Could you show me the study you reference to in your comment? I was not able to find it when I directly searched for it. Also, it still holds true that bestiality is legal in Denmark, whether or not these animal brothels are still up and running.

      • Can’t find a specific link to the publication right now (which was all in Danish by the way), but contact the Animal Protection organisation, they’ll probably give you it:
        db@dyrenesbeskyttelse.dk

        Still, the story goes that it would be just a couple of redneck farms with farm animals far out in the countryside, and not something on industrial scale.

        When people say the words “animal brothel” they make it sound like its something that goes on on wide scale in urban environment or something, and not that it is/was a backwards redneck activity on just a couple of farms.

        Bestiality is also still fully legal in the United States of America, federally plus 13 states, among those being Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, New Hampshire and New Jersey. So Denmark isn’t a special case here.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoophilia_and_the_law_in_the_United_States

        In both Denmark and the United States its legal because when homosexuality/sodomy was legalized, it went under the same paragraph as bestiality.

        And in both Denmark and those 13 states in the USA, there is other animal welfare laws that prohibits any kind of physical injury and stress that is most likely automatically a part of such acts, which makes it pretty much illegal in practise anyway.

        • Just because it is legal in the U.S. doesn’t make it okay for it to be legal in Denmark. Bestiality is not okay anywhere. As I state in the article: “What countries throughout the world need to focus on is the welfare of its animals, both inside and outside of the slaughter house.”

          The purpose of the article is to comment on a larger issue. If countries are sincerely worried about animals and their rights, then simply stunning a cow before its neck is slit is not the solution. This article asks readers to step back and understand that this new regulation is not an animal rights victory. As a result of this new legality, many are referring to Zabiha and Shechita methods as if they are terrible practices, which they are not. As I’ve stated in the article, both Islam and Judaism promote animal welfare. In fact, it is a sin to be cruel to an animal or cause them additional pain.

          If stunning the animals prior to slaughter does, in fact, cause them less pain, then that is a great thing. But it also needs to be taken into account that stunning the animal may kill it and it may also lead to less blood being able to drain from the body, both of which would make it unfit for consumption according to the Islamic and Judaic dietary laws. Animal stunning needs to be properly regulated and performed, but what guarantee is there that that is going to happen? First, countries need to make sure the animals are actually being taken care of, throughout their lives. Some of the conditions of these slaughter houses are pathetic–we might as well stun these animals the second they wake up, followed by stunning them in half an hour intervals.

          Let’s forget about bestiality being legal and let’s say there are no such things as animal brothels. In general, why isn’t there a greater push for animal welfare? Why are we taking this chance to hate on religion when we could be using this chance to push for more substantial regulations that will actually help the animals?

          We need to move the spotlight from religion to genuine animal welfare, because, as this article points out, religion isn’t barbaric and it is most certainly not the problem.

  4. I have some comments/questions. I have seen you tube video of Halal and Kosher slaughter, where throats are cut in the presence of live animals waiting their turn. Some of them become quite frantic to escape. I haven’t seen any video where individual animals are separated visually from others for slaughter. The animals can not only see, but can also hear and smell what lies ahead. Are these videos not truly Halal or Kosher? (I hope I’m using the right terms, I’m only learning about this now and mean no disrespect.)
    As for stunning, NO animal welfare or animal rights supporter would suggest we “hit a cow on its head for a few minutes” in order to stun it. Stunning with captive bolt stun-guns lays a cow out immediately, in one swift step. I feel certain that this is more humane than slitting throats with no stunning. Given the option, I would choose the stun-gun, wouldn’t you?
    And, lastly, just because other barbaric practices continue doesn’t mean no strides should be made. We don’t live in a perfect world, and any progress away from cruelty is better than none.

  5. Great article! Really sheds light on the real problems with animal slaughter houses and how there is so much more that needs to be done.

  6. As a vegetarian, people have no right to enslave animals for for food…regardless of a religion. No matter how humane you are taking a life. If you can’t slaughter your own food…you shouldn’t be eating it. The way animals are treated would make people recoil… Why should you be sheilded from animal suffering. Watch Earthlings.

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