NOVEMBER 2002

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Halal Or Not Halal
From The Arab Voice

Meat considered to be holy to Muslims is sold at higher prices at Arab and Muslim stores than the same meat available at American stores. Are Muslims being taken advantage of by members of their own community?

A Muslim feels better when he eats Halal meat. And he gets irritated when he pays double for that meat compared to what he can get from American stores, because he has to believe the vendors without really knowing where the meat comes from.

Over the past few years, capital investors have seen the Halal meat business as an opportunity to generate big profits, so they have opened stores, where the word "Halal" is written in beautiful Arabic letters. But following our investigation, we found out that American companies are selling meat to these stores, which makes us conclude that the meat in question is not in fact Halal. These stores are everywhere; even Americans are realizing the profits to be made, so they have opened stores to sell meat and then write in Arabic the word "Halal".

I am not saying all the meat that Muslims eat is not Halal, but it appears as though most of these stores are engaging in dubious activities by providing American meat.

There are two Halal butchers in Jersey City, New Jersey, and based on our investigation, each one’s daily production was discovered: the first one slaughters thirty to forty animals, and the second, which has less capacity, slaughters around twenty. That means the total number of butchered animals in these two places reaches an average of sixty each day. If the meat is distributed to the three hundred Arab stores that sell Halal meat in New Jersey (or at least in places where Muslim and Arab people live), each store can only have 3 kilos (6.5 pounds) of this meat. Thus, these stores are getting half of a slaughtered animal from the two butchers, and then proceed to sell two to three animals. So, where did the rest come from?

Logically, it appears as though the owners of these stores are swindling Muslims in the area, especially armed with the knowledge that most of the meat comes from Argentina and Latin America. And there is a certificate given to the importer saying that Sheik "X" from the Saudi embassy or other embassies prayed on this meat to make it "Halal". But who is this sheik exactly? His name has been used as a lie to sell the Muslim community this meat.

This article’s objective is not to shut down any businesses, but rather place the issue under closer examination, drawing attention to the fact that the Arab and Islamic community is being taken advantage of. We are also not asking people to boycott these stores, but rather attempting to differentiate between two things: If one wishes to buy the American meat from a supermarket, and one finds that this meat is well cleaned and covered properly, then one should do so. But if one wishes to get the Halal meat from an Arab store, one has to buy it with its fat, bones, and expensive price, which can end up being twice as much as the American meat, even though the source may be the same. I am not saying that all the Halal stores oblige one to buy the meat without cleaning it. On the contrary, they provide the meat that one asks for, but they raise the price and one has to accept it.

The price of one pound of Halal meat can reach $4.5 dollars, while regular meat is sold at $2 dollars in American store. This means that one is paying twice for the same meat, which according to our investigation lets us know that these profits go directly to the pockets of greedy Arab and Muslim stores owners.

Translated from Arabic by Elias Saber


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