The Boycott Halal in Australia and Halal Choices groups oppose halal certification on the grounds of the cost to the consumer as well as animal welfare and argue that certifying bodies funnel money to terrorism.
The former is planning to petition the government for changes to the Competition and Consumer Act so halal certification is paid for only by those who buy halal products, known as ‘user-pays.’ The worldwide campaign has a strong social media presence with more than 54,000 Facebook followers and urges people to “boycott all companies and organizations that promote or use halal products and services.”
Boycott Halal claims halal products “fund Islamic expansion by any means.”
Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law and involves slaughtering animals by cutting the throat while a dedication is said. The carcass is then drained of blood.
The Q Society, which calls itself “Australia's leading Islam-critical organization,” is also mounting a petition opposing the current model of halal certification and demanding the implementation of a user-pays system.
The organization has been involved in campaigns opposing the construction of mosques and brought right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has compared the Quran to Hilter’s Mein Kampf, to Australia.
Halal consultant Ahmed Kilani told The Anadolu Agency that the majority of halal products were exported.
He said: “Despite its minuscule cost in the overall scheme of things, even if we were to assume that the cost of halal certification is being passed on to the consumer, over 90 per cent of Halal certified items are exported.”
Therefore “any Australian consumer is paying only 10 per cent of what sometimes amounts to less than 0.1 per cent of the sale of an item to pay for Halal certification.”
He added: “Even on a logical or economic argument, the halal haters don't have a leg to stand on the issue of having to pay for halal certification.”
Q Society President Debbie Robinson declined AA’s request for an interview.
Halal Choices is run by New South Wales farmer Kirralie Smith. The organization, which claims its website receives 15,000 unique visitors a month, says it wants to provide information to consumers so they can avoid paying an “Islamic religious tax.”
The homepage of Halal Choices’ website carries a video titled “Understanding Halal Certification Schemes” that is produced by the Q Society in partnership with Halal Choices. The footage claims that halal certification is an “invention” by “some Muslims who want to make money from food companies and gullible customers.”
In the video, Smith states: “All of the halal certification organizations are operating under sharia law and desire for sharia law to be accepted as a part of our mainstream society. Money that is paid out in fees for halal certification is used to fund in part or whole the push for sharia law in Australia.”
Smith maintains she has no objection to Islam but in an article on the Pickering Post blog headed ‘Sydney Terrorist was Imitating Muhammad’ – a reference to Man Haron Monis, the man who held 17 people hostage in a Sydney cafe last month – Smith admits abhorring Islam as an ideology.
She also maintains that her main complaint about halal certification is that it has been “linked to funding terrorism overseas and as yet there has been no thorough investigation into the Australian situation.”
The Australian Crime Commission told the New Matilda website that it is “not aware of any direct links between the legitimate halal certification industry and money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups.”
A number of Australia’s top food brands are being targeted for boycott for producing halal foods including Vegemite, Four ‘n’ Twenty pies, the Byron Bay Cookie Company, Nescafe, Colgate and Western Star Butter.
Anti-halal campaigners are now targeting small companies that do not have the resources to withstand a boycott. An aggressive social media campaign forced South Australia’s Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company to drop its halal accreditation and forgo a lucrative deal with Emirates airline.
The Islamic Society of South Australia, which provides companies with halal certification, described the campaigns as "Islamophobia," ABC News reported.
There are also concerns that a reduction in halal certification could adversely affect the Australian economy.
Broadcaster Chris Smith, speaking on 2GB radio station last month, claimed Nestle Australia was experiencing a 4.5 percent growth partly because the company is breaking into new Muslim markets abroad thanks to halal certification for its products.