Australia’s Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company has been pressured into pulling out of a deal worth $50,000 after an aggressive social media campaign accused the company of funding Islamic extremism.
The company had recently agreed a deal to supply yoghurt to Emirates airline, the airline requires all products have a halal certification, which cost the company $1000 to get. Online criticism of the company has led to the company dropping the halal label which has lost them the contract with Emirates. Why did they drop the label? Because people online accused that the $1000 fee was going to be put towards funding Islamic extremism.
A form of ‘religious tax’?
Websites such as Halal Choices claim that the fee is a religious tax and that halal certification is not needed as the food can be eaten even if it does not have the halal label. Groups like this claim that the halal labelling is a sign that sharia law is slowly taking over society and that Islam will take over the country and destroy their way of life and are encouraging a boycott of companies that sell products that have the halal certificate.
Queensland Halal Certification Service assures the Australian community that this is misguided information.
“This (halal certification) benefits Australia, benefits locally, benefits people here, working here, that are trying to raise their families here and [this attack] is hurting them,” said Mr Muhammed from the Queensland Halal Certification Service. “I don’t know where they get that every Muslim is bad … we’re not.”
Islamophobia is growing – fast
Image: Geoff Dexter – Flickr
Anti-Islamic sentiments have been growing recently, in part due to the emergence of Islamic State and fears around possible terrorist attacks. The Islamic Society of South Australia, which provides companies with Halal certification, say the attacks against Halal products fall under the banner of “Islamophobia”.
The society’s Dr Waleed Alkhazrajy believed more explanation of Halal would ease the negativity. “We are happy as well to help these companies engage in discussion or explanation for these members of the community that send these negative remarks and we say ‘look this is what it is, this what the process is’ and I’m sure that will alleviate their concerns or misunderstanding,”
Is ‘Halal’ misunderstood in Western Society?
Misconceptions around Islam and especially Sharia law and Halal are not uncommon in Western nations. While it is natural to be a little wary and unsure of something new to us, we must try and at least learn so that we can make our own minds up with an informed decision. Halal means permitted, allowed, lawful or legal. In relation to food or drink it means that the food or drink is lawful, permitted or allowed for Muslims. Unless it is specifically stated in the Quran or the Hadith (Prophetic sayings) as forbidden, the majority of food and drink are considered halal.
I have to be honest, I am stunned by this story. It highlights a worrying growth in Islamophobia as well as an acceptance of ignorance around religion and foreign cultures. A business has pulled out of a deal that could have had huge benefits for them, not only would they have supplied a major airline, but they could have branched out into new markets which would have increased revenue and helped grow the business leading to more jobs within the local community.
All over $1000.
Had this been any other certification I doubt this amount of fuss would have been made, no one complains that Vegetarian or Vegan foods are labelled, why shout and threaten a company over a label on a pot of yoghurt? No one wins in this situation, unfortunately these misunderstandings continue to happen, and will do unless we all just take some time to actually get to know the world around us and those within it.
What are your thoughts? Is Social Media allowing ignorant views to take surface? Post your thoughts in the comment box below.