Codex guidelines for HALAL: The letter of Muslim consumer`s organizations OPINION
(Paris-NewsHalal, 13 Rajab,1437 AH, 20 April 2016) Global Muslims Consumer`s organizations led by Paris based World Muslim Consumers Organization, WMCO sent a letter to Codex Alimentarius Commission expressing deep concern regarding plans of Codex to revise the general guidelines for the use of the term Halal. Waves of concerns growing among Muslim consumers, International Halal Certifying bodies and Halal experts calling Codex like moves a direct interfere of non-Muslims in the religious affairs of Muslims. In June 2015, Turkish Halal Organization GIMDES organized an International gathering of Halal Certifying bodies and Halal experts rejecting non-Muslim interference in the religious affairs of Muslims.
Codex moves to revise general guidelines for the use of the term Halal rising fresh and deep concerns among Muslim consumers worldwide. The letter from the president of WMCO Ms. Hanen Rezgui Pizette is reflecting international rejection of moves emerging from unrelated players.
Letter of Muslim Consumers` Organizations to Codex
Below is the letter of Muslim consumer`s organizations regarding the future works of Codex on May 9 to 13, 2016 to revise the general guidelines for the use of the term “HALAL”.
Paris, April 4, 2016
Executive Committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems
Codex Committee on Food Labelling
Codex Alimentarius Commission
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
Please allow us to give you our Muslim position regarding your coming meeting in coming May and on behalf of our all members: Muslim consumers organisations. It is important to clarify that in our Islamic teachings and beliefs, we have all the religious details regarding: animal slaughter(DHABH), what is allowed to eat from meat and food and what is not allowed, doubtful meat and food, authentic fully approved meat and food with all the details on ANIMAL CARE AND WELFARE especially at the time of animal slaughter. Amazingly a lot of Muslim doctors and scientists, have discovered the great many health benefits of our prescribed meat and food which are produced according to the teachings of Islam.
Members of the World Muslim Consumers’ Organization (WMCO) are Muslim consumers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Malaysia, Japan, USA, UK, France, Denmark, Kuwait, Palestine, India… It is also an umbrella organisation affiliated with ASIDCOM (France), APOCE (Algeria), Behalal.org (UK), Ikeethalal (Netherlands), ASEVE Foundation (Belgium), NewsHalal.com (Japan) and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan) that work to protect the Rights of Muslim consumers to meet their religious obligations and requirements within the Halal meat and food market.
Regarding the future works of Codex on May 9 to 13, 2016 to revise the general guidelines for the use of the term “HALAL”, Muslim consumers’ organizations proposed that:
Any Muslim religious question, definition and process, or religious decision are the exclusive prerogative of religious authorities of the Muslim communities of each country.
Any accreditation, auditing, certification, and the control of all production that requires halal authentication are the exclusive responsibility of the competent Muslims operating under the control of the accredited and recognized Muslim authorities and religious institutions.
No standards for halal procedures used by the Muslim community may be prepared or owned by a non-Muslim company, organization or government.
The Muslim consumers’ associations are also unanimous that :
Religious slaughter must be done without any type of stunning or mechanical slaughtering, before or after the religious rites.
The ability to slaughter the animals by the people of the books is to exclude from the halal industry. It is not feasible to check the religious practice of workers within the industrial context today.
The harmonization of halal industry practices begins with harmonization in each local market. Halal is indeed, for religious minorities of the exporting countries, a fundamental right of religious freedom guaranteed by UN and the EU as well. It is therefore necessary that these countries be concerned primarily to respect the rights of their minorities. Then it might be possible to negotiate systems of mutual recognition of religious references in the context of international trade, with strict compliance to religious rules laid down for such mutual recognition. So that Muslim communities’ diversity could be respected.
The only way to establish common guidelines at the international level is the adoption of the agreed religious standards as agreed by Muslim scholars, Muslim consumers in the world and their prominent religious authorities. Otherwise, the rights of the majority of Muslim consumers will be jeopardized by the Codex guidelines.
Moreover, religious minorities struggle to safeguard their religious freedoms in countries with non-Muslim majority. Unfortunately, religious slaughter is the target of restrictions and bans in these countries with Muslim minorities. Thus, Muslim consumers should undoubtedly reject guidelines which go against their efforts to protect their religious beliefs regarding meat and food and to pass on these Islamic beliefs and practices to their own children. Manufacturers that want to produce halal meat, beverages, food ingredients and other consumables must adapt to the real needs of Muslim consumers worldwide as dictated by the religion of Islam. Muslim consumer`s activities are gradually being structured worldwide.
The recent dissolution of the CEN European halal standard project and the rejection of the initiative of an ISO international halal standard project are also an evidence of the actual impact of Muslim consumer`s efforts in Europe and in the rest of the world. Despite the economic challenges, the halal meat production remains a fundamental religious issue for the Muslim consumers.
Finally, please note that French Muslim stakeholders approved their halal standards, for their biggest European local halal market and suggested for export. These standards, that are under the aegis of CFCM (The French Council of Muslim Worship), include Muslim consumer`s requirements and needs aforementioned. (A copy is enclosed)
The President of WMCO