Pupils must not be forced to eat halal Church tells schools
The Church of England has told its schools to ensure they are serving non-halal food after concerns that a number are only providing meat slaughtered according to Islamic law.
The official guidance was issued after Church members complained that the use of halal meat was effectively ‘spreading sharia law’ across Britain.
The Church’s financial arm has also come under pressure to withdraw its investments â€“ worth millions of pounds â€“ in supermarkets that do not clearly label halal food.
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The moves follow disclosures by The Mail on Sunday last year that halal products were widespread in schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues but members of the public were not informed.
More than 10,000 Christians, many of whom have reservations about eating meat from animals that are bled to death while an Islamic prayer is recited, have signed a petition calling for proper labelling.
Animal rights campaigners have also expressed anger because animals are often not stunned before their throats are cut with a sharp knife.
Alison Ruoff, a long-standing member of the Church’s ‘parliament’, the General Synod, said: ‘The Church is only just waking up to this. We have been pathetic and mealy-mouthed but we should be really concerned about this.
‘There is a lot of fear about upsetting Muslims but as a Christian you have to stand up for Christian values. Because we are unwittingly eating halal meat, we are spreading the practice of sharia law.’
An influential official body representing both Muslim and Christian leaders also said non-Muslims should not be compelled to eat halal meat.
The Christian Muslim Forum, set up by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams four years ago, said there were concerns about ‘some public authorities which provide only halal products in schools and other institutions’.
It said in a statement: ‘We urge all food outlets, catering organisations and public authorities to label halal food properly, for the benefit of both non-Muslim and Muslim consumers.’
John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford and chair of the Board of Education, which runs more than 4,000 Church schools, told the General Synod in London last week that guidance had been sent across the country. The guidance said if halal meat was served in schools it should not be the only option and suppliers should be changed.
Mrs Ruoff has challenged the Church Commissioners, who manage the Church’s Â£4 billion assets, to sell its shares in supermarkets that did not clearly label halal food.
The Rev Patrick Sookhdeo, an Anglican cleric who runs the international Barnabas Fund charity for Christians facing persecution, said some extremist Muslims viewed the growingÂ use of halal food as part of their efforts to ‘impose’ sharia law on the West.