You’re strolling around your local shopping centre when your stomach tells you it’s time to eat. Unsure of what you’re craving, you make your way to the centre’s food court where there is a range of international menus to choose from.
The scents are inviting and the prices tempting. Your food court walk begins, searching for that A4 piece of paper that usually hangs on the wall behind the register. Starting at the sushi bar, you stroll past the salad stand, skip past the McDonald’s queue and land at the Kebab shop which doesn’t have an A4 sheet, but has a clearly crafted “HALAL” in big, bold, yellow text behind it’s counter. Your hunt for halal food has ended and you may now carefully begin to design your kebab.
Australian Muslims go through this process daily. Scanning food courts and restaurants for halal certificates is not as tiring or tedious as some may think. Australia is fantastically accommodating for its diverse population and I, as a Muslim, am thankful for it. Food is a blessing and we can’t be too picky. But what makes our food selection process easier is an event like the 2016 Halal Expo that was held on April 10th at Fairfield Showground.
The Expo was designed to raise awareness of halal products and services both within the Islamic community but also to share it with non-Muslim Australians. It was established as a source of information and inspiration with the halal lifestyle at the centre of the project. Whilst many people may pertain the concept of halal strictly to food, the event was also successful in highlighting that halal is a lifestyle choice that affects all areas of life- from food, to finance, to clothing and to charity- for Muslims around the world.
For Expo Director, Mr Syed Atiqul Hassan, the Halal Expos held in Sydney and Melbourne are about engaging and promoting the halal lifestyle, even despite people showing public distaste towards the halal industry; “Halal food requirements belong to a global community in the world. 3 billion Muslims use halal, it’s not something happening in Australia only. This is a global requirement happening just like any other food requirement of any other global community. Some people have some problems with it, it’s up to them,” Mr Hassan said.
Farhat Naveed (left) is a Certified Pastry Chef who recently opened her own artistic baking business, Cake Artiste, based at Currans Hill.
Most importantly, Mr Hassan stresses the importance of harmony at events like the Halal Expo in order to uphold the value of multiculturalism; “We have to follow our Australian values of multiculturalism. Our Australian values are respect each other’s cultures, to respect religious or cultural applications and this is what Australian values are. And we have to promote these activities and events as long as they are not hurting any other community or individual.”
The event was met with some hefty media coverage because of the clashing rallies that occurred at the Melbourne event the week before. Whilst anti-halal and anti-fascist protesters were present outside the Sydney event, Mr Hassan said they did not interfere with the proceedings inside the showground and agreed it was a day well spent; “All the sponsors were very happy, the people who attended were happy. It was a good show, we had fireworks at the end. So I really couldn’t see anything negative. It went according to the plan.”
The showground was busy all day with the flow of people continuing from 10am to 8pm. Approximately 10 000 people attended the event with 30-40% of the attendees being children and 10-15% appearing to be non-Muslim.
So if you’re looking for some halal inspiration or just want a day of fun, the Halal Expo is the day for you. Look no further for those A4 certificates sitting behind the counter- there’s a whole showground of halal life on display at the Expo.
Rima Dabliz, 20, is a blogger studying B Communication majoring in journalism/ B Laws at UTS. She is a keen fundraiser for the International Women’s Development Agency and the Cancer Council. Her occupational goal is to work as a criminal defence lawyer whilst maintaining her passion for writing about the world and aims to develop an online youth magazine made by young Muslims, for young Muslims, about young Muslims.