There is a bit of a media storm going on at the moment regarding food. This isn’t about food hygiene or finding horse meat in a lasagne. No, this storm is about the decision of Subway to convert 185 stores to ones which only serve Halal food, which conform to Islamic laws about the purity of food.
Subway have done this in areas with high Muslim populations after what it calls “requests from local communities”, with a spokesman saying,
“The diverse multicultural population across the UK and Ireland means we have to balance the values of many religious communities with the overall aim of improving the health and welfare standards of animals,”
This seems, to me, to be fair enough. There are areas of the UK where there are very high concentrations of Muslims, higher than non-Muslims in some, so to ensure they are catered for seems fair, as well as being good business sense on a local level. After all, if a high proportion of your local population are forbidden from eating what you serve then you are automatically reducing your own customer base, so doing something about that would appear to be sensible.
Of course, some of the concerns are centered around animal welfare, as the Subway spokesman alludes to in that statement. Subway have said that, before any animals are slaughtered, they will be electronically stunned to ensure minimal suffering (ignoring the fact that Islamic law states that the animal should be killed quickly and not suffer). This, then, appears to be a very minor concern.
However, the picture at the top of this post draws attention to the main worry of most people; namely, the idea that Sharia Law is gradually creeping in.
If that is you, let me ask you a question; if Subway had announced Kosher stores to cater for Jewish customers, which also served no pork or non-Kosher products, how would you react?
The answer I’ve seen to that is “ah, but they haven’t, have they?” Well, yes, they have. In the USA, Subway have had Kosher stores for many years. They have not been successful and their numbers are dwindling, but it was done. And where was the media storm? Nowhere. Why? Because one of the main “bad guys” in modern society’s narrative is Islam. Put any other religious group up there and there isn’t a problem, but the fear created due to the actions of a few extremists and a sensationalist media means that there is an immediate negative reaction to anything like this.
There really is no need. Islam is no more “taking over” the UK than afro-carribbeans were in the 50s and 60s or Jews or Irish were in the 1800s. Like all ethnic groups they are adding to a rich diversity of an already diverse culture. When you visit areas of our country and walk down a street to hear 8 or 9 different languages and see people of several different races and cultures it is amazing. It’s like the world has come to us. To have part of these groups’ native culture take hold is a natural process. There is no one British culture, just a collection of diverse ones which converge and diverge all over the place and we are richer for that.
If you go into a Subway wanting a ham sub and they no longer serve pork, get one elsewhere. There are plenty who do. However, don’t let this stop you eating there at all. If, as David Cameron argues, we are a Christian country then you are going against Christian teachings to do so. God declared all food clean, and made no exception for Halal (not that it existed then, of course).
This isn’t the thin end of the wedge. This isn’t a Muslim takeover. This isn’t another step down the road to Sharia Law. This is a company addressing the needs of communities and maximising their customer base.
And this is coming from a real bacon lover!