Up to 9000 school pupils in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston have been instructed to boycott all school meals when they return to class in September.
Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), called it ‘absolutely unfair’ and said Muslim children should not eat any meals at the schools as a protest similar to that last held in 2012.
The LCM has an ultra-orthodox view of halal meat which says pre-stunning animals before religious slaughter does not meet Islamic dietary requirements.
This decision is absolutely unfair, undemocratic and discriminatory against Lancashire Muslims.
“We shall tell children not eat any meals supplied by the county council as a protest, as it has made it political. Cllr Driver has imposed this decision in a dictatorial fashion. We are looking at a legal challenge!”
The move follows the decision by Lancashire County Council’s ruling cabinet to stop supplying only halal meat from pre-stunned sheep and cattle to 27 schools.
The authority currently provides halal meat from un-stunned animals to local schools attended by 12,000 pupils, three-quarters of them Muslims.
County leader of the Labour Party Cllr Geoff Driver, who championed the move, said:
This decision has been taken solely on the grounds of animal welfare. It is clear that there is much debate about what constitutes halal. We accept that a small number of schools may choose to use different suppliers for halal meat.”
When the contract for halal meat came due for renewal last year, the full county council agreed not to provide meat, other than poultry, to county council establishments unless animals were pre-stunned. The Council has been widely praised by animal rights campaigners for taking this bold step to put animal welfare first for a change.
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