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Sharia adherence excludes non-Muslim customers

Sharia adherence excludes non-Muslim customers

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Over the last week or so, we’ve seen several new exemptions made to accommodate both sharia finance principles and halal food.

It was revealed this week that Subway, one of the largest fast food outlets in Britain, has decided to exclude pork and ham from its menu in around 200 of its stores. Furthermore, what meat remains will be exclusively halal – meat from animals slaughtered in accordance with sharia law.

In a statement, a Subway spokeswoman said “All halal meats are certified by the appropriate halal authorities.”

It would be interesting to know which authorities she is referring to, and whether it is fair that people may be inadvertently providing funds to groups such as the Muslim Food Board, which is affiliated to sharia councils running de facto family law courts.

Many people may well object to contributing to such groups and to empowering discriminatory sharia councils. They may also object to the slaughter method of halal, and indeed the fact that Subway is now contributing to potential discriminatory employment practices; given that only Muslims can carry out halal slaughter.

But there are other concerns - what about choice? Why can’t people who object to halal on an ethical basis get something to eat at certain Subway stores? They have been completely excluded – their custom doesn’t count.  Furthermore, devout followers of other religions, who may not wish to partake in Islamic religious ritual, are being asked to do so or go elsewhere.

Few people would object to choice, and few would object to Muslims having the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs, but it is the accommodation of sharia, at the expense of others, that elevates Islamic belief – it is, in effect, a demonstration of Islamic supremacy.

In the same week, Lloyds Bank was accused of religious discrimination for offering free overdraft accounts to Muslim customers. According to a Telegraph report, the bank issued a booklet stating “We are removing the monthly overdraft management fee of £6 from our Islamic Account, Islamic Student Account and Islamic Graduate Account. So, if you use an unplanned overdraft on these accounts, there won’t be any charges.” Customers who do not have Islamic accounts however will be charged to £80 for the same offence.

Lloyds were to quick to reassure us that Islamic accounts are available to all, but what if a person does not want an Islamic account – either for ethical or religious reasons?

In effect, customers must now pay extra for refusing to have an Islamic account.

Yet again, the marketing of products – both in food and in finance – is being divided and segregated along religious lines, and those who do not adhere to Islam are getting the raw end of the deal.