Why the BBS does not want us to eat halal meat


I was pondering over Gaya’s piece on what one may write about if one were a Sri Lankan without being labeled racist, reductionist, fascist, sexist, speciesist, androgynous and so on, and thought, well, food is one topic, that should be unifying and uncontroversial. We are known the world over for our love of good Sri Lankan food. But then along came the anti-halal campaign of the Bodu Bala Sena.

Much has been written recently about this set of Buddhist monks running amok in several places, including in the abattoir operated by the Colombo municipal council. According to some experts, they are a triumphalist bunch of extremists looking for a new minority group to oppress. Others say that they are losers in Sri Lanka’s neo-liberal economy, looking for scapegoats to blame for their miserable lot in life. At any rate, the regime by throwing a cloak of legitimacy over this bunch of miscreants is on collision course, making sure of losing the votes of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives and Pakistan, in addition to the Muslim states of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at the UNHRC in the years to come.

My analysis, I confess, is reductionist. For the record, I am non-veg and my apologies in advance to those vegetarians and animal rights advocates, to whom this might cause offence. I think these BBS monks are just having a hard time following a central precept of Buddhism – elimination of desire. You all know of Buddhist monks who have difficulties resisting the temptations of the flesh. Then there are those who refuse to ride in anything but a Mercedes. Others like to bask in the limelight by giving interviews on prime time TV. These guys in the BBS seem to have a hard time giving up their craving for delicious meat, so they are on a rampage to resist temptation. After all, they are not asking non-Muslims to be vegetarians, but rather surprisingly not to eat halal meat. Gee, they know what’s good.

Their problem is serious – halal meat tastes better than most other meat. Mutton chops, anyone? Go to the Muslim butcher in any Sri Lankan market and what you get is…well, yum when you prepare that mutton curry with lots of chillie, black pepper and curry leaves. Chicken? I can’t recall that I have eaten anything other than a halal chicken in the last 20 years in the island. And they sure taste better than the pathetic rubber ducks on offer in supermarkets in the US.

Moreover, halal or kosher is apparently a more humane way of killing animals for their meat, because they are instantly unconscious and feel no pain. The modern method of slaughtering animals using a Captive Bolt Pistol (CBP) apparently produces more pain and retains more blood in the meat. I am not an expert but that’s what I’ve heard.

So now you know why the BBS doesn’t want anyone to eat halal meat. They believe that life is suffering. So they need to suffer by not eating halal meat. They also want to make animals suffer by not using the halal method. They want Muslims in Sri Lanka to suffer because they are among the more prosperous and happier citizens of the island, thanks to their own effort and philosophy towards life. And they want the non-Muslims to suffer by depriving them of one pleasure they still have as long as this regime rules, by not having access to the tastiest meat available in the island.

So next time you are at the market go to the Muslim butcher and whisper that you want some of that export quality halal chicken, beef or mutton because you have no desire to suffer and do know what tastes best. If you’re like me, you sure don’t want the BBS or the government to mess with your mutton curry.


  1. Fazli Sameer says:

    I remember an occasion at a Moor home where a Buddhist Priest was one of the guests and the host reluctantly, but politely, asked him, “Hamadurawanee, Mas Kanawada?” not knowing how to serve him with the curry.

    Prompt came the response from the good Reverend, “Mas kan nathuwa bath kanna puluwanda lamayo?”

    I rest my case

  2. Dilshan J says:

    Actually the notion (and the study in 78 using EEG) that Halal and Kosher killings are painless has been questioned quite a lot of times and some countries have banned Halal and Kosher killings due to it being inhumane and painful. Polish court banned Halal and Kosher meat because the animals are not made unconscious fast enough and that the animals undergo severe suffering.

    • This rhetoric about study of 78 is not reliable is used by the anti-religious slaughter groups. There have been more recent studies since. e.g., http://www.grandin.com/ritual/slaughter.without.stunning.causes.pain.html

      The problem with stunning methods (including bolt postol) is that they work well in theory, but in practice, there are many misses. When the stunning doesn’t kill the animal on the spot, it is known that animals gain consciousness later during the meat extracting process (being skinned and cut alive). The anti-religious-slaughter groups always conveniently ignore this fact.

      For the onlooker, halal or kosher slaughter looks painful because the animal goes in to a shock due to blood loss and there are inventory muscle convulsions. Uninformed onlookers assume this movement is a reaction to pain. The stun method seems to be humane because there is no movement (if stun was successful) – never mind what the animal feels.

      Anyway, all this discussion is fine and dandy in countries where stun method is utilized to slaughter the animal. In Sri Lanka however, what is the alternative to halal slaughter? Pigs are beaten to death. Is that supposed to be humane? (I am not sure about the cattle.)

  3. Dear Humans – what we need to understand is that whether we are Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim by belief or a Priest of any religion – we are Human first –and that Humans comes with various mental and physical deficiencies. What is not good is Hypocrisy – regardless of religion, ethnicity, country, race…etc one should not contradict what one preach.
    We are highlighting issues with Buddhists monks because we have a majority of Buddhist in this country and the tensions are felt more by other religions and ethnic groups. I have studied and traveled in other parts of the world and I can relate the same alienation in situations that I have experienced.
    It’s the same in any part of the world where one race or religion dominates others – In predominantly Muslim countries or Predominantly Catholic countries or predominantly “White” countries or predominantly “Black” countries etc…..I realy can’t comprehend a solution for this unfortunately!

    Senator Obeysekera 1915

  5. “Dear Humans – what we need to understand is that whether we are Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim by belief or a Priest of any religion – we are Human first ” – well said Gayan.

    The Mad King Louie’s in Walt Disney’s Jungle Book sang, “I want to be a human, just like you”. Perhaps our rulers/kings have something to learn from King Louie?

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