A spokesperson for Brisbane’s Muslim community says recent hysteria over halal food is completely unjustified.
Yasmin Khan, president of Muslim festival EidFest said that most of those complaining about halal certification labels were ignorant of what halal means.
“Someone said yesterday that ‘we should stamp all halal food so at least I’ve got a choice’ and I said should we stamp every grape? Every blueberry? They are all halal,” she said.
Ms Khan also had strong words for yoghurt manufacturer Fleurieu who made national headlines earlier this week by bowing to social media pressure to remove halal certification from its products.
“At the end of the day, whether they have the stamp on it or not, yoghurt is halal. Yoghurt was introduced to Australia from foreign shores, primarily from the Muslim community,” she said.
“You’re not forced to eat it. Whether we put a stamp on it, or whether the company puts a stamp on it … it doesn’t matter, it’s halal anyway.”
Ms Khan said that Muslim culture in Australia is misunderstood by the general public who are influenced by exposure to images of Muslim militants.
“That’s tainted their viewpoint of what Muslims are and who Muslims are, and that is unfortunate,” she said.
Ms Khan said undue pressure on manufacturers who certify their products as halal is harmful for Australia’s primary industries, who need to mark their products as halal to export to Australia’s regional neighbours.
“Companies are doing it for commercial reasons. To sell their meat, or yoghurt, or whatever product they have … you have 200 million Muslims sitting in Indonesia, or if you want to export to the Middle East, they are all Muslim countries and you have to comply with some regulations,” she said.
“If it means they have to put a little halal stamp on it to comply with that, that’s a decision they have to make.”