Why Halal Certification Is in Turmoil

Chris Johnston, Sydney Morning Herald, December 28, 2014

Kirralie Smith is a permaculture farmer from northern New South Wales and a mother of three. She is also the public face of the virulent campaign to boycott halal food and products.

Halal means permissible for Muslims to eat or use, and the Facebook page “‘Boycott Halal in Australia” has 41,000 supporters.

Smith speaks at events organised by “Islam-critical” groups such as the Q Society, which has also been involved in local campaigns to stop mosques being built. Her “Halal Choices” website, she says, gets 80,000 visitors a month.

She says her objection is not to Islam itself but the extra cost she thinks is imposed on Australian consumers by companies paying to have products–everything from milk to pies and shampoo–certified halal.

Halal products are certified as being free from anything that Muslims are not allowed to eat or use (such as pork and alcohol). The products must be made and stored using machines that  are cleansed according to Islamic law.

Large processing plants will have Muslim staff members who are accredited in some instances to bless the factory. Halal slaughtering of animals in Australia is done after they are stunned.

Smith and her supporters claim halal certification is a scam by Muslim interests to raise money for mosques and therefore for “jihad.” They base this assertion on media reports in France, Canada and the United States claiming certification funds had been paid to organisations linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Kirralie Smith

Kirralie Smith

Yet neither Smith nor her unofficial patron, the Q Society, could elaborate on the Australian situation. “To the best of our knowledge no one has yet undertaken similar research,” says Q Society’s national president Debbie Robinson.

Mohammed Eris, the treasurer of the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia, says he is “saddened” to hear regular accusations that Muslim halal certifying bodies funnel money to terrorism. His organisation has the contract with Coles to certify supermarket products. “We are Australians,” he says. “I love my footy, my cricket, my meat pies. Halal pies of course.”

He says the council has funded youth groups and non-Muslim youth cancer organisations such as the Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia which supports children with cancer and their families. “We practise our beliefs but with respect for the others around us.”

The Australian Crime Commission told NewMatilda.com  recently that no links were found between the “legitimate halal certification industry” and the “financing of terrorist groups”.

Still, Smith maintains halal certification is a religious tax and jihad is more subtle than terrorism.

A significant amount of products in Australian stores are halal certified including food from SPC, Sanitarium, Cadburys, Nestle, Kelloggs, Master Foods, Mainland, La Ionica and Kraft. Supermarket chains such as Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Ritchies pay for certification for some products, as do dairy factories and meat processors.

According to the Q Society, 75 per cent of poultry suppliers, the four major dairy companies, 60 per cent of sheep abattoirs and more than half of Australian cattle abattoirs produce certified goods.

Still, the Australian Food and Grocery Council says halal certification costs are “negligible” and “highly unlikely” to change pricing.

One of the main things that Smith and the anti-Halal movement objects to is foods or products that are deemed intrinsically halal –such as white milk, honey and nuts–having halal certification.

She claims certifiers put undue pressure on companies, blackmailing them with the threat of being branded anti-Islam or racist if they don’t comply.

So far, South Australian dairy company Fleurieu has dropped its halal status–due to perceived negative publicity on anti-Halal social media pages–losing a big deal with Emirates Airlines in the process. It paid only $1000 to be certified. The costs of certification vary between $1000 for a small company to $27,000 a month for a large abattoir.

Prominent brands such as Four ‘N Twenty, Kelloggs, Byron Bay Cookies, Cadburys and Pauls have been targeted in online anti-Halal campaigns but have stood firm, all stating that halal certification means they can export their product to Muslim countries.

Yet, behind the headlines, the booming halal certification industry is wracked by upheaval and recriminations both domestically and in export markets, with allegations of bribes paid by Australian certifiers to an Indonesian Halal agency.

The new Indonesian government has dismantled Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI)–the country’s main Islamic body and halal controller– which approves halal imports, shifting the goalposts significantly in a highly competitive $12 billion export industry.

The MUI has held a stranglehold on Australian halal exports by being able to dictate which Australian certifiers are favoured. But in one of the former Indonesian government’s last acts, a new body–the Halal Product Assurance Organising Agency–was set up. It will be phased in over the next three years.

“The full impact on Australian exports will emerge only once detailed regulations are developed and implemented,” an Australian department of agriculture spokesperson said. “The department will continue to work with the relevant halal-approving bodies in Indonesia to support Australian exports.”

The bribery allegations were initially aired in Indonesian news magazine Tempo this year. Fairfax Media has established a Melbourne whistleblower wrote to three Australian government departments including the Federal Police in March telling them of corruption allegations between the MUI and Australian halal certifiers trying to firm up the lucrative export market in Indonesia.

The allegations include bribes paid to the MUI. Fairfax Media has seen an MUI contract sent to Australian certifiers requiring them to “contribute in activities for the halal product service in Indonesia”.

A Department of Agriculture spokesman said: “The department is unable to comment on any investigation that may currently be underway.”

Halal certification in Australia is dominated by four big Islamic groups–one in Melbourne and three in Sydney. They are the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, the unofficial peak body; the Halal Certification Authority Australia, the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia and the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria.

There are 21 Islamic groups approved by the federal government to issue halal certificates but many–in regional areas–service only small meat processors. The big four, all classed as not-for-profit enterprises, do the bulk of the work across meat and non-meat products.

Internationally, the halal market is valued in the trillions with 20 per cent annual growth, fuelled by a rising Muslim middle class in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia and the increasing reach of affluent Muslim travellers.

Big Australian certifiers are heavily regulated by the Australian Quarantine and Export Service (AQIS; a federal government body within the Department of Agriculture) but this covers only export products. Halal certification for domestic products, restaurants and butcher shops is unregulated. This is estimated to be about 10 per cent of the total halal market.

“I can make cheese in my little factory and get a local organisation to certify it halal,” says Ahmed Kilani, who runs a Sydney halal consultancy and co-founded the website Muslim Village.

“I could set up tomorrow to certify butchers and restaurants. I can charge whatever I want. Who certifies the certifier? It should be written into the law but it isn’t.”

Mohammed Khan, of certifiers Halal Australia, says he has been pushing the government for tighter domestic halal standards since 2008 with no traction. He says certain certifiers enjoy a state-by-state monopoly at the expense of other hopefuls.

In contrast, the big export certifiers are audited by the Australian government and also by Islamic governing bodies in countries that receive the products.

“These are mainstream organisations. They are not start ups,” says Ahmed Kilani. Just “one local scandal,” he says–misuse of funds or non-halal products being certified–could have a major economic impact.

“If a product is exported to say Indonesia or Saudi Arabia then the governments of those countries have whole departments full of scholars and food scientists looking closely at what happens. They are not going to give a backyarder permission to certify.”

Under Islamic law, the money the certifiers earn is supposed to cover costs and if there is any left it goes to the Muslim community organisations that the certifying company is aligned with–mosques, schools and welfare groups.

Those who control the certification rights can also fund imams and bring preachers to Australia. Sydney-based Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) set up an Islamic school in Tarneit in Melbourne’s west and an Islamic centre on Christmas Island for Malaysian Muslims, says chief executive officer Amjad Mahboob.

“The international halal market is huge,” Mahboob says, “and Australia being a primary producer of food items means we are relied upon so it’s very important the credibility of what we do is protected at all times.”

Yet that credibility has sometimes been brittle. In 2003, a court case involving Shafiq Khan, an influential figure around Sydney’s Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia, saw former supporters swear he had diverted without approval more than $1 million to charities, including his own Al-Faisal College, at the expense of constituent charities. Former Prime Minister John Howard opened the college in 2000. Mr Khan negotiated a settlement and agreed to return the money to the council.

In 2009, the Victorian Supreme Court found the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria (ICCV) had defamed a competitor in the lucrative halal trade, and ordered damages be paid.

Then in 2012 a Sydney Islamic school aligned to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils was ordered to pay back $9m in NSW government funding after it was found money had been allegedly diverted to the federation the peak body for halal certification in Australia. “It is a matter that is before the court,” said Mahboob. “We are disputing the [NSW] minister’s findings.”

This year, in a Federal Court trademark case it was revealed two Sydney kebab shops got free fake certificates from a wholesaler, which if they’d opted to buy them elsewhere would have cost $5000 each.

In Melbourne and Sydney, the certifying industry has begun to move away from predominantly Middle Eastern interests  towards businesspeople from Turkey and the Balkans.

An investigator familiar with the industry said it was a “highly competitive”  and “very incestuous” market. “It is riven with factions,” he said.

Credibility can also be an issue to those seeking a boycott on halal products can also face. Theirs is a campaign that has been hijacked to an extent by extreme right-wing groups such as Restore Australia, the Australian Defence League and the Patriots’ Defence League.

Last year, a Queensland woman was charged with food tampering after stickers stating that halal food funds terrorism were attached to coffee in a supermarket. The woman charged bought the stickers from former One Nation candidate Mike Holt — who has raised funds for a contentious campaign to stop a mosque being built in Bendigo.

Kirralie Smith, meanwhile, says she is being courted by all kinds of small political parties to stand for Parliament.

“All of the minor parties have asked me to represent them. ‘You have to be our senator,’ they say, ‘you have to be our candidate’. The Christian parties, the right wing parties. I really like [right-wing Christian Democratic Party politician in Sydney] Fred Nile, I think he is great. He would love me to join his party.”

Early in 2015, Q Society will present a petition to federal parliament demanding the Corporations Act 2001 be changed to mean only Muslims bear the cost of halal certification on everyday products.

When pressed on the lack of evidence that Australian consumers are being ripped off by halal cartels–and that money raised funds nefarious activities–Smith says her  “primary focus” is lack of choices for consumers and she is “happy to be wrong” in her claims.

“I understand it is complex. I felt deceived that companies pay halal certification fees and there was no way as a consumer and an ordinary mum that I knew.”

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  • She says her objection is not to Islam itself…

    I stopped reading there. Because demography is destiny.

    • IstvanIN

      Australia has strict anti-hate laws so her statements was probably not truly indicative of what she thinks.

    • Bobbala

      That just means she wishes to stay employed and not broke and in prison.

    • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

      Damn. That’s almost word for word what I was about to post.

    • Paleoconn

      I agree. If they just got rid of all their Muslims, then there would be no halal. But then, I’m sure this woman is a race realist, just doesn’t want to get arrested for hate speech. I think we will make our stand in places like Australia and Europe.

      • C. Magnus

        I’m not sure but I’d say she and many others like her are not race realists. A year ago I used to follow all this on facebook, and one of the most common arguments is: how can we be racist if Islam is not a race? Islam critical movements are not necessarily race realist, they are a hybrid group of some conservative Christians and very liberal atheists who don’t actually oppose non-whites coming into white countries at all, somewhat like Geert Wilders who seems to just focus on Islam and protecting liberalism. She appears to be in the former category. From when I was following this, the issue of race is never brought up. No one brings anything up like IQ. They are against illegal immigration but don’t mention reducing legal immigration numbers much. There are Indians and East Asians who also join those groups and no one says anything. No speaking in terms of white and non-white. They almost all support Israel. No Alt Right ideas or thinkers are ever even mentioned. I did see a Paul Weston vid once, but I guess he’s borderline between race realist and Islam critic.

        Basically the whole philosophy of these groups is we want our freedom and ‘way of life’ and Islam is wanting to take that away so we oppose it. Nothing deeper than that. And this isn’t public statements to the media this is all from anonymous fb comments. I used to be into all that myself, but then wondered why people on the internet (and all through history) don’t like Jews and tried to find out why out of curiosity, so then discovered Stormfront, TOO, Amren, Vdare, Counter Currents and white nationalism in general. Trust me its a different world from where I started off, and I had to do A LOT of reading before I actually understood it, which most people don’t have time for or aren’t intellectually curious enough. I wouldn’t keep my hopes up too high that the anti halal movement has anything really to do with the race issue or WN, unfortunately. I don’t know where it will lead, at the very least it rejects the worst of political correctness.

  • MekongDelta69

    “Large processing plants will have Muslim staff members who are accredited in some instances to bless the factory.”

    After they ‘bless the factory,’ do they blow it up with the suicide vests they’re wearing?

    Hey – Jes’ axin’

    • Sick of it

      If they are not watched closely, they may introduce toxic chemicals or biological agents into the food they are blessing.

    • dukem1

      Halal…I say “hell-all”, as in to Hell w/all of them!

    • Whirlwinder

      No but they do take millions of dollars out of the economy and send a portion to the international jihad, which they do because it says so in the Koran. The imam was lying (taqiyya) when he was saddened by statements that they sent money to the jihad.

  • DiversityIsDeath

    Wow, she is beautiful, isn’t she? A lovely, red-headed European woman–an endangered species.

    • dukem1

      Maybe what’s needed is a critical mass of Euro babes to go all Lysistrata….”No more for you men until you get these creatures OUT OF OUR COUNTRIES!”

    • Bobbala

      Anything beautiful must be stamped out as long as the negro women know what they are.
      Hollywood just couldn’t sell Grace Jones. They tried really hard. They still are but it is futile.

  • dd121

    I hope these Australians write to all the manufactures and let them know that they will not buy anything labeled halal.

  • El Baga Doucha Libtard

    Give me a strong man to lead the cause any day. I know what you’re saying about women, and it’s a valid point; however, I’ll take a man who doesn’t back down over a woman. People want to be led by a man.

    That said, women do have a role — a very important role — in the cause. That role is to let men know that being a WN isn’t a woman repellent. Letting women serve in high-profile roles within the movement is one way to make that happen.

    • saxonsun

      Some people want to be led by a man. Speak for yourself and the other frightened men on this site. It sure isn’t women who have f**ked up this planet because they’ve never been in charge. Ah, the truth–how it must hurt!

      • Jatt.Singh.Punjabi

        I’m not white, but I’ll tell you this. A mother produces sons, the sons protect the motherland. A woman cannot lead men lol, a weak man cannot lead strong men. Women are never going to be in charge, and never should be. ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕਾਖਾਲਸਾ । । ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕੀਫਤਹਿ । ।

      • El Baga Doucha Libtard

        Oh, so women haven’t shifted the ideological center to the left, have they? The FACT that they have shifted the ideological center of this country — and the West, in general — to the left suggests that women are more responsible for the immigration crisis than they are. It would be a quixotic disaster to put women in charge.

        Another FACT: it’s evolutionary that we — men and women — prefer to be led by men.

        Take your feminism somewhere else!

        Ah, the truth — how it must hurt!

  • superlloyd

    “We are Australians,” he says. “I love my footy, my cricket, my meat pies. Halal pies of course.”
    Muslims are not Australians.

  • Bobbala

    Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
    Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

  • commentator83

    Interesting how they call Mike Holt ‘extreme right wing’. He’s married to an oriental woman, and is very pro Israel, few Jews working for him. I used to follow him on fb a year ago, I saw him block ‘anti Semitic’ comments (by others, not me, I had not yet discovered TOO or Amren, Vdare, etc at that time). Basically these ‘Islam critical’ groups are still ‘anti racist’, saying ‘we aren’t racists, Islam is not a race’. So basically, all the third worlders immigrating are OK, as long they aren’t Islamic. Q Soc is against multiculturalism, but supports ‘an integrated multi-ethnic state’, or something to that effect. So multiracialism, they do support. None of these groups are WN or race realists in the least. None of them criticise Israel, Jewish power, or say anything at all about race or the New Right. Half of them seem to be atheists and have no respect for any religion or tradition.

    Since the mainstream media can’t tell the difference, may as well just be a white nationalist and criticise Jews as much as Islam, and bring some racial science into it. It’s a very fine line they are treading indeed, but I see they want to filter in as many groups who oppose Islam as they can, I can understand that.

  • LHathaway

    So why do bars have to pay $30,000 a year to maintain a ‘liqueur license’?

    • Bobbala

      You have stuff and other people want it.

  • Tim

    If you like Halal, you`re gonna love Asbestos… signed the Voice of experience

  • That $27,000 a month works out to $324,000 a year per business being blackmailed. I clearly got into the wrong field.

    • LHathaway

      lol

  • Bobbala

    It depends on if your God is Jesus or not-Jesus. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

  • Jo

    It’s not permissible for Christians to knowingly eat anything that has been blessed by a ‘pagan’ god. The Christian God does not recognize Islam.

    Isaiah 45:5 NIV
    “I am the Lord and there is no other, apart from Me there is no God.”

  • Jo

    Will post this again, here.

    Isaiah 45:5 NIV
    “I am the Lord and there is no other, apart from Me there is no God.”
    In other words, Christians shouldn’t eat anything blessed by a ‘pagan’ god.

  • Jo

    Butterball did that for a few years ending the practice two years ago. They just didn’t bother putting it on the label and sold those turkeys to everyone. Created quite a ruckus. I haven’t purchased any even though the practice was stopped.

  • 4321realist

    “Halal slaughtering of animals in Australia is done after they are stunned.”

    “Stunned” to me means that an animal or a person is jolted by mental trauma or physical force to the point where they can offer no resistance to anything directed at it, like a knife in this instance. I can’t see it as a humane effort to prevent suffering as a prelude to a death stroke that leaves the animal staggering around and slipping and tripping in it’s own blood.

    These third world crazies sicken me to no end. Their disgusting religion mandating the slitting of animals’ throats amounts to nothing less than a bunch of lunatics looking for excuses in order to justify their blood lust for killing, because they enjoy doing it.

    They exhibit the same kind of insane cruelty to humans as well. Adulterers are buried in the ground up to their necks while a mob of religious maniacs stone them to death in a slow, agonizing way. Other offenses are punished the same way.

    These people have no business in the West….anywhere. Even the best of them are disgusting savages.

  • See The Future

    Australia will go the way of Europe.

  • Christopher Marlowe

    So the Halal thing is like the kosher tax?

    • commentator83

      Probably worse, it’s real big business this halal. On one of the global halal websites, there’s a whole blurb about ‘global business opportunities’ and such like. Not even pretending to be something spiritual or religious, just a money making opportunity.

      • C. Magnus

        The deleted comment compared halal to something beginning with ‘K’ 😉

  • MartelsGhost

    Everything with Arabs revolves around bribes. Everything.

    Islam is a sham religion created with the soul (pun intended) purpose of giving religious authority to caravan raiders and slave traders.

  • Jatt.Singh.Punjabi

    We do halal certification as well. Used ti slaughter boars in the jungle, have imams carry them back then eat them. kosher

  • El Baga Doucha Libtard

    I wish that I could prove you wrong. I will say that in Alabama (where I live), the majority of the women are uncomfortable with interracial dating.

  • Fr. John+

    Well, GM, you’d have never heard that lie (Islam is like Xtianity) from me! And, why has no one on this board, pointed out the fact that another “ME” religion, also have a racket going for ‘blessed’ items, that range from food to toilet articles? And it’s been a scam going on for centuries! Just sayin’….

    • WhiteVeinKratom

      I thought the same thing as I started to read this.

      Those that cannot be named.

      • C. Magnus

        I’ve been generally aware of Amren for a while now but mainly posted at TOO. Why aren’t you openly discussing Jewish issues here? Isn’t the whole point of the Right is that we are not hamstrung by political correctness like the Left is, so we can say we have truth on our side, and they in large part do not (and can’t claim to). Once we start the self imposed muzzling of views, we lose that. I mean the entire point of sites like these is being able to speak the truth on racial and cultural matters that are taboo in the mainstream. Pointing out black and other immigrant IQ and crime rates while protecting Jewish power doesn’t make sense to me! You can say anything you want in the comments at TOO.

  • Whirlwinder

    Islam has stuck a foot in the door. Australia should send all muslims to their homelands and allow no further immigration of Islam, unless they want to be slaves to Islam.