there's the Texas Halal Law, which makes it a criminal offense to sell Halal and non-Halal meat in the same store, without specifically labeling the two, and of misrepresenting non-Halal meat as being Halal. In theory that's not such a big deal. Similar laws are on the books for Kosher meat. But the problem comes with the definition of what Halal is.
"Halal," as applied to food, means food prepared and served in conformity with Islamic religious requirements according to a recognized Islamic authority.
That comes from the bill's definition. And it raises the question of who is recognized as an Islamic authority. HB 470 leaves that question open. But in a dispute over which Islamic definition of Halal to use, the State of Texas would be forced to rule on a question of Islamic law. And to enforce that law. Texas would become an enforcer of Sharia.
At the signing, Perry made a point of thanking Imam Bakhash for all that he does. Bakhash also appears to be one of the judges on the Texas Islamic Court, whose decisions have been upheld as binding by Texas appellate courts.
"During the 78th Regular Legislative Session of the Texas House and Senate, the Texas Muslim community drafted, had introduced and lobbied for the passage of a Texas Halal Law to protect Halal food consumers from intentional mislabeling of these products by producers. On Tuesday August 12, 2003 Muslim leaders from around the Lone Star State met in our Governor's Capitol Office for the Ceremonial signing session of HB-470 (TX Halal Law). Many activists from numerous organizations collaborated through the Freedom and Justice Foundation to achieve the Texas Muslim community's 1st Legislative victory in Texas.
All Muslim in Texas should be very proud of this day, because it marks the culmination of much effort to unite the Texas Muslim community. In explaining the development of this bill during the 1st Annual Texas Muslims Legislative Day on March 18th 2003, Farha Ahmed expressing the need for coalition building stated that "it took a Muslim Republican working with a Jewish Democrat to get this bill drafted." Governor Perry was very friendly as always with the Muslim activists as he recalled his days as TX Agricultural Secretary and the opening of a slaughter house that processed Halal meat. The Governor also shared his successful experience working on expanding Texas Meat producers' markets to include Middle Eastern countries. Governor Perry also made a special effort to thank everyone in attendance individually, but with special emphasis to Imam Bakhash whom Gov. Perry thanked "for everything he does"."
relating to the labeling, advertising, and sale of halal foods; providing a criminal penalty. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code, is amended by adding Subchapter I to read as follows:
SUBCHAPTER I. LABELING, ADVERTISING, AND SALE OF HALAL FOODS
Sec. 17.881. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:(1) "Halal," as applied to food, means food prepared and served in conformity with Islamic religious requirements according to a recognized Islamic authority.(2) "Label" means a display of written, printed, or graphic matter on the immediate article or container of any food product.(3) "Person" includes an individual, corporation, or association.(4) "Restaurant" means a place where food is sold for on–premises consumption.(5) "Retail store" means a retail grocery store, delicatessen, butcher shop, or other place where food is sold for off-premises consumption.(6) "Sell" means to offer for sale, expose for sale, have in possession for sale, convey, exchange, barter, or trade.Sec. 17.882. MEAT LABELING. (a) If a person sells both halal meat and nonhalal meat in the same retail store, the person shall clearly label each portion of halal meat with the word "halal." If an unwrapped or unpackaged meat product is displayed for sale, the display case or container in which the meat is displayed must be clearly labeled with the word "halal" or "nonhalal," as applicable.(b) A person commits an offense if the person is required to label meat in accordance with this section and the person knowingly sells meat that is not labeled as provided in this section.Sec. 17.883. SALE OF NONHALAL FOOD. A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally sells at a restaurant or a retail store a food product that is represented as halal food and is not halal food and the person either knows the food is not halal food or was reckless about determining whether or not the food is halal food.Sec. 17.884. CIVIL REMEDY. A consumer aggrieved by a violation of this subchapter may maintain a cause of action for damages in accordance with Section 17.50.Sec. 17.885. CRIMINAL PENALTY. An offense under this subchapter is punishable by the fine imposed for an offense under Section 17.12(d). SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2003.
I notice that this bill passed with a non record vote.
So the question remains. Suppose someone does deliberately mislabel a product as being Halal (which seems to me to be akin to kosher, that is clean, prepared a certain way, which would, at one level, be a violation of Islamic shariah (law). The injured person would be able to come to a Texas court and claim damages? Against whom? The store? Who checks that the halal food is actually in accordance with Islamic standards? Could one say that Rick Perry thus is upholding Shariah Law in Texas? It may be also that there are Kosher laws on the books, similarly.
Anyway, it's interesting because a religion decides to set some arbitrary standards based on so-called holy books about how food should be prepared. I think they can do that, but how is that a US or state govenrment is in the business of uphodling those religious laws?
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