Creeping Halal Outrage: Pam Geller Style

Why is anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller suddenly raging against halal meat when just a year ago, she had no problem with it?

The week of Thanksgiving, Geller went on a rampage against halal turkeys in an effort to expose what she called the “meat industry's halal scandal: its established practice of not separating halal meat from non-halal meat, and not labeling halal meat as such.” She went on to warn Americans about the “march” of “Islamic supremacism” and called for a boycott of Butterball for supposedly selling “stealth halal turkeys.”

Geller wrote:

In a little-known strike against freedom, yet again, we are being forced into consuming meat slaughtered by means of a torturous method: Islamic slaughter.

Halal slaughter involves cutting the trachea, the esophagus, and the jugular vein, and letting the blood drain out while saying “Bismillah allahu akbar” -- in the name of Allah the greatest.


Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. Turkeys that are halal certified -- who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom? I wouldn't knowingly buy a halal turkey -- would you? Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law.

Ruth Nasrullah at the Houston Chronicle sets the record straight, pointing out that the practice of halal is neither shocking nor outrageous. In fact, she writes, Geller “seems unaware of how similar kosher, the traditional Jewish way of preparing food, is to halal.” Indeed, as Jeffrey Goldberg noted at The Atlantic:

The method used to kill a bird according to halal requirements is also the method used to slaughter a bird according to the dictates of kashrut, or the kosher laws. Geller's statement that “Jews are less likely to be exposed to such meat because they eat kosher” has to count as one of the most ridiculous things she has ever said. Jews who observe kashrut are eating birds whose tracheas have been cut. It's as simple as that. Her desire to blame Islam for anything and everything she dislikes blinds her to the contradictions, fallacies and lies built into her arguments.

Nasrullah also wrote:

The halal certification that prompted her rant may not actually reflect Islamically correct slaughter. I confirmed with a Butterball consumer affairs representative (as did one of Geller's readers) that their “whole turkeys are halal.” I pursued the issue by asking if that meant their turkeys are slaughtered individually following Islamic guidelines, beginning with saying Bismillah (in the name of Allah) over them.

I have not been able to get a response to this question, despite trying throughout this afternoon and evening through Butterball's consumer affairs department and media relations representatives.

I would love to be told that mass-produced poultry are slaughtered humanely, but I find it impossible to believe. Meat production is about making money, and doing individual slaughtering with care and attention, as Islamic law requires, is not the way to minimize costs.

Geller's outrage seems especially curious considering that in October 2010, she stated: “I'm not against halal food any more than I'm against kosher food.” She was discussing her boycott of the Campbell Soup Co. for rolling out a line of halal soups in Canada certified by the Islamic Society of North America. The Washington Post reported at the time:

Blogger Pamela Geller began calling for a boycott earlier this month via her widely read site, Atlas Shrugs. Other bloggers soon joined in.

The halal soups, designated with a special label, are available only in Canada. The company has no plans to offer a similar line in the United States, said John Faulkner, a company spokesman.

In an interview, Geller, who was instrumental in whipping up opposition to an Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, said she has no objection to the halal certification itself. Rather, she said, she opposes Campbell's decision to have its Canadian products certified by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization that government prosecutors alleged had ties to the terrorist group Hamas in a 2007 conspiracy case.

“No one is suggesting they refrain from this line,” Geller said. “No one is suggesting they not have halal food. I'm not against halal food any more than I'm against kosher food. My issue is who's doing the certifying.”

So what changed in a year?