The Subway sandwich chain is the target of many international boycotts for a variety of good reasons.
In 2011 in the USA the company gave the Subway Sportsman of the Year Award to the American footballer Michael Vick, a convicted felon who was incarcerated for 18 months (and could have been longer) for spending years torturing and killing animals.
When police raided his house, they found 65 dogs, a dog-fighting pit, blood-stained carpets, and various equipment commonly used in dog fighting, including a ‘rape stand’ in which female dogs are strapped into and restrained, to allow male dogs to breed with them.
According to the federal indictment, when Vick’s dogs lost a fight or didn’t perform well, they were routinely killed by methods like electrocution, hanging, drowning and “slamming” the dog’s body onto the concrete floor. Many dogs were butchered in these ways and Vick took part in the executions.
The company's support for an animal torturer sparked an ongoing boycott of Subway promoted by Facebook pages “liked” by tens of thousands.
As if this weren’t enough, Subway is now showing even more signs of its lack of concern for animal cruelty.
Nearly 200 Subway branches in Britain have decided to serve exclusively halal meat.
Halal meat, derived from animals barbarically slaughtered by having their throats slit without previous stunning and then let bleed to death (which can take several minutes), is allowed as a loophole by British law, which normally requires animals to be rendered unconscious before slaughter.
This exception is permitted in the name of “religious freedom”, but in reality not only there is no moral justification but even no need for such atrocity.
Islam specifically exempts its faithful from the obligation to eat halal food if none is available:
He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful. Quran (002:173)In addition to the issue of cruelty to animals, the selling and serving of halal meat to a wide, non-Muslim public goes against the spirit of the legislation consenting to such exceptions to humane slaughter in an animal-loving country like Britain, exceptions which were meant only for the followers of a specific religion.
In particular, for Christians – believers of the faith which is constitutionally and historically the religion of Britain - eating food sacrificed to Allah is idolatry: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols” (Acts 15:29) Also Acts 21:25.
Other religious groups, like Sikhs, are expressly forbidden by their religion from eating meat “killed the Muslim way”.
Last but by no means least, according to Islamic law 2.5% of the money Muslims earn must go to zakat (charity). Of this, 1/8 must finance jihad (holy war), which includes atrocities committed in Muslim-majority countries - like Syria - and terrorism. It wouldn’t be halal (“permitted”) for halal-certification companies not to pay their dues to jihad.
Halal is very topical these days, for the many voices, petitions, organisations, Facebook pages, commentators, quite a lot of MPs, yet more MPs, religious leaders, and the new head of the British Veterinary Association John Blackwell calling for its ban in Britain (following other countries including Switzerland and Denmark) and for a clearer labelling so that people are enabled to make informed choices.
Downing Street said that halal labels will be reviewed. Ministers said that they will consider compulsory labelling for halal meat if there is 'widespread demand' and it is done across Europe.
Against this background, the Liberty GB party - which is contesting the 22 May European Elections in the South East - has joined the boycott of Subway. Saturday 10 May a group of us held a peaceful protest outside one of the 200 Subway restaurants in Britain serving exclusively halal meat - the one in 9 Chertsey Road, Woking, Surrey – and surrounding areas.
We handed out leaflets, displayed placards and discussed with interested members of the public. Talking to people we found that, as always, the halal issue is one over which almost all non-Muslims agree: cruelty to animals should not be tolerated for any reason, and Islamic law, sharia, should not be forced down anyone’s throat, literally or metaphorically.