Jon Condon in Beef Central news briefs 23 September 2014 wrote:” Global halal food market worth $1.6 trillion by 2018.”   Dubai is a major centre of that trade and Australia only manages to supply 9% of its imports. Brazil is the major supplier.[ http://www.beefcentral.com/news/beef-central-news-briefs-23-september-2014/] This trade could be under threat from extremists.

The “aggressive social media campaign” which was undertaken against the South Australian Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company in early November has been successful. That company has terminated its $50,000 contract to supply halal yoghurt to Emirate Airlines. One of the major charges in this campaign was that fees from halal certification are being used to fund terrorism.

The attacks were quite harsh and social media was apparently followed up by vicious phone calls to the business. The sales and marketing manager pointed out; “The social media laws are quite hard to police.” “You can get on there and say whatever you like in fake accounts, but what we are trying to put across is these business that you are approaching, in our case, our farmers, they are just trying to be viable. They don’t deserve this hate mail, and neither do a lot of the other businesses that are getting it.”

While the company may be able to save its business and the jobs of its employees, this campaign is not an isolated one. Hatred of Islam, fuelled by police raids and foolish political commentary, has led to an intensification of Islamophobia. Whenever there is some association of the Muslim community with either terrorism or gang related crime, the whole community suffers. Mosques are attacked, hijab wearing women are assaulted, Muslims are abused in the street.

One form this Islamophobia is taking is the waging of anti-halal certification campaigns.

The main argument used for Scriptural opposition to the consumption of halal meat by the fundamentalist Islamophobes relies upon the assertion that Allah, the God of Islam, is a false god, an idol. Paul of Tarsus, the founder of what became Christianity, is quoted in his First Letter to the Corinthians, as stating verses 20-21 “…when pagans sacrifice, what is sacrificed by them is sacrificed to demons who are not God. I do not want you to share with demons.”

While this is associated clearly with sacrifice upon the altar in a religious rite, Paul goes on in verses 25-29 to state: “Eat anything that is sold in butcher’s shops: there is no need to ask questions for conscience sake since To the Lord belong the earth and all it contains. If an unbeliever invites you to a meal, go if you want to, and eat whatever is put before you; you need not ask questions of conscience first. But if someone says to you, ‘This food has been offered in sacrifice,’ do not eat it, out of consideration for the person that told you, for conscience’s sake-not your own conscience.”

However this was not the policy of the followers of the Gospel in Jerusalem.   Presumably while Paul was in Jerusalem visiting the disciples and the Head of the Ecclesia, James the brother of Jesus, what became known later as the First Council of Jerusalem made a decision about food. The only record we have is from the partisan of Paul, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, but even this is remarkable. Acts verses 28-29 records: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit marriages.” This was of course based upon the assumption that the basics of the Torah were known and understood, with the avoidance of the forbidden animals including pork and the maintenance of the method of kosher slaughter, which ensured that the animal was free from blood.

Today this decree of the First Council of Jerusalem is largely ignored, except by those who want to use it in propaganda against halal food.

Notwithstanding the extremist Christian slander that Islam is a form of paganism, we should be aware of the stand of the main Christian body, the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II when in Nigeria in February 1982, stated quite clearly to Muslim religious leaders: “ We both believe in one God who is the Creator of Man. We acclaim God’s sovereignty and we defend man’s dignity as God’s servant. We adore God and profess total submission to him. Thus, in a true sense, we can call one another brothers and sisters in faith in the one God. And we are grateful for this faith, since without God the life of man would be like the heavens without the sun.”