Algeria’s importing of more than 4,000 tons of Indian stirred controversy as a fatwa was issued prohibiting its consumption on the grounds that comes from “pagans.”
Sheikh Shamseddin Bouroubi, known for his controversial views, published Wednesday a fatwa warning Algerians that eating Indian meat is strictly forbidden since the animals were most likely not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic teachings.
“The consumption of meat whose method of slaughter is not known is prohibited,” stated the fatwa.
Islamic slaughtering, also called ‘halal,’ involves allowing the animal to bleed in order for the flesh to be purified of blood and the name of God has to be mentioned before starting the slaughtering process.
Even if it is proved that animals were slaughtered in the Islamic way, the fatwa added, the meat is still prohibited because it is non-believers who owned the animals and performed the slaughtering.
“The meat comes from pagan people who worship things other than God like cows or birds or rats,” Bouroubi wrote in his fatwa. “They are not monotheists or people of the book. That is why their meet is prohibited even if slaughtered according to the Islamic way.”
In the same vein, the Algerian daily independent al-Fadjr published Wednesday a report by World Assembly Muslim Youth, an Islamic educational organization based in the United Kingdom, about Indian meat exported to Muslim countries.
The report referred to the role played by the Ahmadi Muslim community, also called Qadiani, in the meat business.
According to the report, this community, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, uses forged stamps on the meat in order to deceive Muslim countries into believing that the animals were slaughtered according to the Islamic way.
More than 500 experts from all over the world work in the Ahmadi meat business, the report added, and the community conducts most of its transactions in London.
Djahid Zefzef, General Manager of the Algerian Meat Packing Company, said that the controversy about Indian meat is not related to Islamic slaughtering as much as it is a war between meat importers.
“We have previously imported meat from non-Muslim countries and no problems happened,” he told Al Arabiya. “The 4,000 tons of Indian meat are all in accordance with international standards.”
In response to concerns about whether the meat is halal, Zefzef stressed that the Algerian government imports the meat from authorized Muslim slaughterhouses in India, particularly in the western state of Maharashtra and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
We have previously imported meat from non-Muslim countries and no problems happened
General Manager of the Algerian Meat Packing Company Djahid Zefzef
Meat and food crises
Controversy about meat is not the first of its kind in Algeria. Last month, another heated debate ensued as the National Union of Algerian Farmers announced importing meat from Sudan and alarm bells were sounded over the possibility of the meat being infected with diseases.
Several authorities objected to the decision and argued that it is politically motivated to thank the Sudanese government for its hospitality with the Algerian football team in the World Cup qualifier game against Egypt.
The deal was temporarily suspended amid denials by the Ministry of Agriculture that importing meat from Sudan was banned.
According to the ministry, the Algerian government asked the Sudanese agricultural authorities to provide the necessary safety protocols before the importing starts.
Another meat crisis took place in 2004 when residents of the capital Algiers found out that they had spent half the holy month of Ramadan eating donkey meat and thinking it was beef.
In 2007, Algerians went through another food-related crisis when they discovered that the imported potatoes they were eating was originally meant to be sold in Canada as pig food.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).