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food / travel

No Longer Niche, Mosque-Sanctioned ‘Halal’ Food Finds Mass Market

French retailers and food manufacturers are realizing there’s money to be made by embracing halal, food produced according to Islamic law. Though sales tend to spike during Ramadan, halal is very much a year-round market.

Halal food in a French supermarket (Naïma and Guisane)
Halal food in a French supermarket (Naïma and Guisane)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

With the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan underway, the French food industry is paying special attention to the growing market of products known as "halal," a designation for food produced according to the rules of Islamic law.

According to a survey conducted by the French public opinion firm Ifop, 71% of France's estimated 5 million Muslims had intentions to fast from sunrise to sunset during the 29 days of this year's Ramadan. After sunset, Muslims often have big family gatherings that translate into a rise in overall food consumption.

Halal retailers earn about one third of their annual revenue during the month of Ramadan. Overall, the quickly expanding industry pulls in an estimated 5 billion euros worldwide, according to Solis, an ethnic studies consultancy firm.

In France, supermarkets sold roughly 130 million worth of halal products last year. That number is expected to reach 140 million euros in 2011, according to the consultancy firm Nielsen.

Halal products only began appearing in French supermarkets a few years ago. Specialized brands like Isla Délice and Reghalal were later joined by large French food industry players like Fleury Michon and Panzani. The supermarket chain Casino launched its own range of halal products under the umbrella brand Wassila. And Carrefour, France's top food retailer, sells approximately 50 of its own halal products as well.

"Halal isn't a niche anymore," says one Carrefour spokesperson. "It carries more weight than organic food."

Carrefour's halal foods have been approved by the Grande Mosquée de Paris (the Great Mosque of Paris). But for many consumers, questions remain about halal certification. Concerns were heighted recently by a documentary aired by the television network Canal + , which described "some practices that could be described as fraudulent." A group of eight local Muslim politicians responded this week by asking for a parliamentary investigation into halal certification practices.

Read the full article in French by Philippe Bertrand and Isabelle Tissot

Photo - Naïma Benallal and Guisane Humeau

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Ideas

Iran: A Direct Link Between Killing Protesters And The Routine Of State Executions

Iran has long had a simple and prolific response to political opposition and the worst criminal offenses, namely death by shooting or hanging. Whether opening fire on the streets or leading the world in carrying out the death penalty, the regime insists that morality is on its side.

Protesters linked to the Iranian group Mojahedin-e Khalq demonstrate in Whitehall, London in 2018

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Editorial-

In early September, before Iran's latest bout of anti-government protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, there was another, quieter demonstration: Relatives of several prisoners sentenced to death staged a sit-in outside the judiciary headquarters in Tehran, urging the authorities to waive the sentences. The crowd, which doggedly refused to disperse, included the convicts' young children.

Executions have been a part and parcel of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its inception in 1979. The new authorities began shooting cadres of the fallen monarchy with unseemly zeal, usually after a summary trial. On Feb. 14, 1979, barely three days after the regime was installed, the first four of the Shah's generals were shot inside a secondary school in Tehran.

To this day, the regime continues to opt for death by firing squad for its political opponents; the execution method-of-choice for more socio-economic blights like drug trafficking has been death by hanging.

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