Even a cursory glance at the 'Boycott Halal in Australia' Facebook site along with a random reading of major newspapers across Australia indicate that this popular movement has gained some traction in recent months.
In essence, this Halal issue centres on paying a fee to have on your product a clear logo or words to the effect that this item has been given the all-go for Muslims to purchase it and eat it. But it doesn't start and end there, even the transport that brings that product to the market place is required to have Halal certification.
If such a trucking company refuses to 'cough up' the money to get Halal certification, then any product with Halal certification is not permitted to be transported by that company. The chain of Halal certification has a very long arm.
Check out what's involved -
getting from the farm
transport to the market place
'Boycott Halal in Australia' identifies a number of concerns relating to Australian commercial enterprisers signing up Halal certification.
Is it a restriction on fair trade to those who chose not to pay-up to get Halal certification? Does this pose an economic burden upon those those that do not pay-up? Two good questions.
This leads directly to the nature of Halal certification. This is not a Government requirement. This is, for want of a word, a private commercial enterprise and a very handsome money making exercise. According to the reports on the Facebook page (above), some companies are forking out $29,000 a month.
Another issue is that this whole Halal certification scenario is of great concern to many non-Muslims. Australia has just over 2% of its entire population Muslim. The rest of us are being force-fed product with Halal certification whether we like it or not. Moreover this kind of Halal certification is only quite new, a few years. What has changed?
As a result, this Halal certification 'business enterprise' has expanded exponentially, with a hanging out of a shingle (as it were) as Halal certifiers with no Government control of the process. The Facebook site illustrates this - with example after example.
Furthermore, the Facebook page gives examples are given where food preparation inspections are not even part of these cowboy Halal certification business groups. A phone call, pay up, Halal certificate issued.
There are numerous questions associated as to where the money ends up. The Facebook site gives chapter and verse from those involved in the Halal certification. One question relates to ISIS as according to the Facebook page, is somewhere in the mix.
But it is more than this. It is an inexpensive way to fund the various aspects of Islam in Australia and across the globe. The money involved is considerable. Some have referred to it as 'GST across the world' and this Halal certification focuses on rich western nations.
In effect, Australians are paying up. The question posed by the Facebook page is that these people have a freedom to get monies without the sorts of Government restrictions that are seemingly placed upon every other enterprise. Even Charities in Australia have to conform and meet a host of regularity requirements.
The Facebook page says many of Australia's companies are complicit and they are paying this Halal certification without so much as a whimper, until now. Hence the 'Boycott Halal in Australia' movement which has gained such publicity that some companies have now dropped their Halal certification.
Why isn't it reversed?
If it is so important why isn't it reversed, and the Muslim community itself pays the Government to have their Halal certification placed on specific approved food products. That makes a great deal of common sense to me.
Certainly Dick Smith products belong to a growing number of enterprisers who refuse to have Halal certification. They are being praised across the nation.
The Facebook page identify both groups – those that have chosen to ignore the Halal certification and those that have it. South Coast Dairies are not Halal certified and have no intention of doing so.
Again from the Facebook site - the Subway Vege Pattie is Halal certified and there is a call to boycott it. Chobani Yogurt likewise. Cadbury chocolate also (there has been a cry recently that Cadbury reduced their chocolate bar size – I wonder whether it's to pay for their Halal certification?). Kellogg's breakfast cereals have Halal certification. Even ingredients are checked and therefore require Halal certificate.
Words given to explain all this: insidious, alarming .... The Facebook page says even Sanitarium is Halal certified (associated with the Seventh Day Adventists). Good grief that's Weet-bix! Halal certifiers have their fingers on this too.
Maleny Dairies have stated that Halal Certification is not part of their business model. They will not be spending money on such an item and the positive responses have been phenomenal.
The Facebook site 'Boycott Halal in Australia' is quite an eye-opener. Take a read but sit down first ....
The call is to change your shopping habits.
You just might find that your shopping budget is a lot better off. Certainly, you won't be paying what the Facebook page refers to as this (in effect) additional GST.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html