When Muslim customers went to purchase halal meat from a local supermarket, they were offended when they noticed stickers attached to the products that weren’t there before.
Due to their beliefs, Muslims consume halal meat that has been prepared in accordance with their religious guidelines. Catering to their strict dietary requirements, supermarkets across the globe are now offering halal options to their Islamic customers, which are packaged with specially marked seals indicating that the products fall in line with their doctrinal principles.
Since Sainsbury’s supermarket in Machester, England, began offering halal options for their Muslim patrons, religious consumers have flocked to the grocer to purchase the meats that guarantee they will be following their dietary restrictions. So, when they went to place the products in their shopping carts, they were perplexed and subsequently offended to find a new kind of sticker on their halal meats.
Instead of seeing the halal stamp of approval, Muslim customers were greeted by round, red stickers which read “BEWARE! Halal is barbaric and funds terrorism #BanHalal” on their Islamically approved food products.
The stickers, which lined the deli shelves of a Sainsbury’s in Salford, caused an uproar in the community, stirring up rumors that they were part of a racially motivated hate crime targeting Muslims. Shortly after, police became involved, investigating the “stickering” and determining that the adhesives were created and placed by 29-year-old resident and self-described “animal lover” Liam Gary Edwards, according to Express.
Photos of the stickers and his trip to Sainsbury’s were posted to his Twitter account, which has since been suspended by the social media platform. For placing the stickers on halal meat packages, Edwards was arrested and charged with racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage after the supermarket claimed that they could not sell the products for fear of contamination.
Although Edwards pleaded not guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court, he was sentenced to a 4-week curfew, which banned him from being out between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. He was also ordered to pay approximately $230 in court fees and compensation.
However, Edwards still insists that he wasn’t racially motivated, arguing that he was merely using his right to protest in order to bring awareness to his belief that halal slaughter is inhumane. He added that he believed Britain’s legal system has become a “joke,” suggesting that he was harshly punished while Islamist hate preachers often go free.
While some agree that the stickers should not have been placed on the supermarket’s products, others find it difficult to believe that their message is racially insensitive. Still, Edwards was punished for his crimes and will likely think twice about how he brings awareness to the religious practice that he finds reprehensible. Whether or not you agree with his method or message, his controversial stickers certainly gained the attention he wanted.