Editor, Townsman:

Finally some juicy news for all meat lovers! Something new in Market Basket on Route 114 in North Andover got my attention recently. I saw the “Halal” label on chicken. I rushed to ask the store manager: “Do you know you have Al-Mazra-ah Halal chicken on your shelves? Do you know what Halal means?” He did not.

So I proceeded to explain to him that the only way Muslims are allowed to eat the meat is if the animal is slaughtered according to Islamic law and moral code, known as Sharia ritual. The animal must be slaughtered while it is still fully conscious –– because it must be able to hear the Islamic prayer –– that way its meat can be cleansed. Only then does Allah permit Muslims to eat the meat. So the throats of all animals –– be they chicken, turkey, beef or lamb -- must be slit open to let the animal bleed to death, hopefully without severing the spinal cord. (God spared the pigs; pigs are dirty no matter what and can not be cleansed by any prayer, Allah decided.)

The “Halal” method of slaughtering animals has two purposes under Islamic law. First, the animal can hear the prayer. Second, because the animal is not shot in the head first before slaughtering, there is no chance for the “toxins” produced by the body to be released into the tissues. So, they claim, it is healthier for humans to eat. They also claim that this way the animal doesn’t really suffer...Makes me wonder how did they find this out?

The ritual is as old as Islam itself, perhaps older. I am sure they had all the lab tests back in the 700s AD to back up their claim. Just kidding! Of course they did not. Yet it is indeed the claim of today’s more sophisticated Muslims, whose rationale directly challenges Western civilization’s laws against animal cruelty.

I find it disturbing that the political correctness and the pseudo-human rights activists always find a way to get an exemption from such well established law. Such exemption has obviously been allowed here, in the U.S., since the package states “made in the USA”. I can not tell you how many disapproving looks I receive when in the winter time I wear my rabbit coat. We are all aware that rooster fights, dog fights, and all kinds of animal abuse will bring criminal charges, but to make an animal suffer inhumanely in spasms as it is dying is just fine if it is done as a concession to Islam.

My question is: What is the percentage of Muslims living in this area for Market Basket to justify putting this on their shelves? My own (politically incorrect) answer would be as many as there were in Cambridge last year when school officials established a Muslim holiday; another day off in public schools. The percentage of Muslims? Next to nothing.

I am concerned that many who shop regularly in Market Basket have absolutely no idea what “Halal” means. They will just see chicken and buy it. The result would incorrectly “show” a greater demand for “Halal” meat than there actually is.

Zuzana D. Livingstone

Lovejoy Road

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