The potential ban of halal chicken in France : a misinterpretation by some imams and a generational gap between Muslims?

Last week in a joined statement by – the Great Mosques of Paris, Evry and Lyon – announced that it would not be possible anymore to get halal poultry in France. They condemned the French government for planning to ban halal slaughtering by the summer 2021. 

These three mosques historically benefit from a legal agreement to certify  halal products in France. Unsurprisingly, their announcement had a massive impact and media covering. National and international newspapers have picked up the news while many French Muslims shared related articles on social media.

A few days later, the website Al-Kanz – of a French Muslim blogger with a large following – released a declaration to explain that the controversy was unfounded. Along the same line, the Ministry of Agriculture has issued a statement to confirm there was no governmental plan to ban halal slaughtering . Apparently, the controversy is due to the transposition of some European directives into the French legislation. According to Al-Kanz, the reaction of the three mosques – was a “political maneuver” related to their ambiguous positions towards the government. Indeed, these three prominent actors are involved in the ongoing initiatives of President Emmanuel Macron to shape French Islam. Their alarmist statement on halal meat may be related to their (threats of) withdrawal from the Macron’s policy.

The Muslims who criticized the announcements of the three historical mosques also expressed their wish to create an alternative to the current halal certification system. Among them, many young Muslims condemned the current halal “business” and the lack of discernment of the Muslim consumers. They recommend that Muslims limit their consumption of meat, especially  in the absence or lack of credibility of the halal certification. As stated on the Al-Kanz’ website: “another halal is possible” but under which conditions and partnership? 

More broadly this controversy illustrates two important dynamics that shape Islam in France: First, the ongoing strong influence of the French state on the national organization of Islamic practices. Secondly, it sheds light on significant divisions within the so-called “Muslim community” ,especially along generational lines.

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