Aug 3 2010 By David Baker
RESIDENTS across Harrow have vented their anger about proposals to have halal-only menus in primary schools in the borough – following the revelation in the Observer last month.
The newspaper revealed exclusively how Harrow Council has employed a catering company to only prepare Halal meat – to serve youngsters in Harrow.
Primary schools are free to opt in to the programme or look elsewhere for their meals but readers are angry that the council has even put the scheme forward.
Sheila Murphy, of Athelstone Road, Harrow Weald, said: “I am appalled at Harrow Council’s decision to serve only Halal meat in the borough’s schools.
“The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has lobbied the government in the past to get the Kosher and Halal method of slaughter banned.
“The Halal method, in which animals are slaughtered by a single slit to the throat, is the only way of killing livestock allowed under Islam but this method is deemed cruel by some animal-lovers, who object to the slow death it involves.
“Harrow Council’s decision is also taking away the choice of children and their parents over what meat they eat and I urge Harrow residents to make their views known to Harrow Council and get this decision overturned.”
The decision to go with catering company Harrison's was taken by the council after the same company was hired to provide Halal only menus to Harrow's high schools four years ago.
That decision was made by a consortium of high schools, not the council, but it has since approached Harrison's specifically asking them to provide Halal meat only meals because of alleged preparation constraints in kitchens.
Allen Roff, who is part of a campaign group called the Indegenious Opression League, slammed the decision adding: “One of our campaigns is to see that the other various religions and Atheists are not compelled to eat Halal or any other religious meals in Harrow schools.
“We think if Muslims cannot eat other meat than Halal, then they should bring in packed lunches. “You cannot force ones religious ideals on others such as Christian’s, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists and others.
“We will be campaigning to make all schools and parents aware.”
But chief co-ordinator of the Harrow Pakistani Society, Mohammad Rizvi, thinks the issue has been blown out of proportion.
He said: “For Muslim children the only option they have is to eat is Halal, it is part of their religion.
“Whereas it isn't a problem for children of other faiths to eat Halal.
“This isn't about Islamification or pandering to Muslim's it's just common sense.
“If you go into any restaurant you will find that a lot of the meat is Halal anyway, it doesn't taste any different or better it is just part of our religion.”