France: Canal+ exposes the underside of the halal market

Source: FSSPX News

A video documentary aired July 31, on the eve of Ramadan, by the French television network Canal+ and entitled “Halal: a new business adrift”, revealed that the certifying organizations are not doing their job but instead are granting halal certification without inspections.  This 52-minute documentary, produced by Feurat Alani and Florent Chevolleau, is a revised and expanded version of an initial 26-minute exposé aired on Canal+ on October 11, 2010, “Halal: the underside of the business”.  The new footage documents the scandals over Herta-brand knackis [crispy-skinned wieners] and Kenza-brand halal sausage.

So it is that traces of pork had been found in January 2011 in Herta sausages that had been certified halal.  “Given that the presence of inspectors in the slaughterhouses would mean a 20% increase in the price of the products,” Fourat Alani maintained, “many people prefer to shut their eyes,” especially since there is no law in France regulating certification.  The French Council for Muslim Observance did try to establish a charter, but its definition of the word halal is not accepted by all.  According to Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Study on the Arab and Muslim World at the University of Provence, who was quoted by the newspaper La Croix on August 3, 2011, “the problem is that there is no consensus on an agricultural or dietary definition of halal.”  According to Fourat Alani, “anyone can become an organization that certifies halal.  There is no law that defines how the word is used.”  “In some cases it’s sending a stamped document in return for a check that was sent, and that’s it.  It is complete impunity,” explained Fateh Kimouche [Kimush], a blogger who specializes in the issue.

Following the broadcast of the documentary by Canal+, eight city councilmen of Muslim origin demanded that an investigatory parliamentary commission be set up “to shed full light on the halal market, since some related commercial practices can amount to public fraud, for lack of clear, precise legislation.”

The market is particularly important in France, since it involved 5.5 billion Euros in 2010.  Florence Bergeaud-Blackler attributes this success to the recovery of their identity by Muslims between the ages of 18 and 25, for whom “following dietary rules is a relatively easy religious practice, an external sign of being Islamic that is highly valued in the community.”  Although most of this business is done in neighborhood markets and specialized convenience stores, large-scale marketing was also started around ten years ago.

“Halal” in Islam designates what is licit, permissible for a Muslim.  Halal food is therefore the food that he is permitted to eat.  (Sources: apic/ La Croix - DICI no. 239 dated August 13, 2011)