Exposing the corruption of halal certification in Australia. Bonus keywords: scam, rort

you a federal government inquiry was launched on halal certification after public outrage sparked by Kira Lee Smith dubbed the accidental activist Kira Lee is your everyday Australian woman wife and mother who stumbled across some concerning facts and decided to do something about it in the end of 99 mm my husband Greg and I decided to do a trip overseas we spent a month in Maui in northwest Africa seeing how Islam impacts the society and how dangerous it is how difficult it is for women and for minority groups has been it was just so incredibly helpful in our journey we had the opportunity in 2002 to go to Indonesia it was just staggering the numbers you know tens of thousands of people displaced and 10,000 or so people murdered and we had heard nothing about it on the news that was an incredibly devastating experience we came home and I really I just felt lost I didn't know what to do in 2010 in my home town there was a conference on Islam and the speaker at that conference was phenomenal but one comment that he made through that conference was that he didn't buy halal certified products and as he wasn't sure where the money ended up and there was a suspicion that it could be funding extremism that caught my attention and I went home that night actually and started googling halal certified foods I couldn't find accurate information about this there was bits and pieces of information but there actually wasn't any clear list it was very hard to find out what was and what wasn't halal certified and I realized very early on there's something wrong here and over the next ten months I did a lot of research I contacted over 500 companies and found that there is in fact a lot of bribery corruption and misinformation about halal certifications I launched halal choices and we did not publicize it we did not promote it at all and in a very short space of time we had over a hundred thousand unique visitors a month to this website it clearly is an issue that a lot of consumers want information about after we launched the website most of the feedback was really positive but within a few months I got some people being very angry in what I'd been exposing but during that time I went to a conference and I met some representatives of the Syrian community that was one of the most significant turning points of my life their relatives some of them themselves have had to flee Syria and it was so hard to accept that this was actually happening in the world you see a lot of Christians are fleeing the country because churches are bombs schools about if you are a Christian you have no place here so it's either convert to become a Muslim or they very sincerely took hold in my hands and said please don't give up please don't stop what you're doing it's very important that you continue to share your message about how destructive Islam can be to people it's very important that people hear the truth and I think that we all need to have this conversation we need to address that halal certification is fine if Muslims want to fund it that is their choice but there is no way that that should be imposed upon or funded by the majority of consumers in this country after years of researching and sharing my findings with consumers and companies as well as countless emails phone calls and visits to politicians the Senate finally agreed to hold an inquiry into third party certification of food in 2015 senator Cory Bernardi was able to get the enquiry approved it ran for over six months received an almost record number of submissions about 1,500 and included three days of hearings as he inquiry unfolded it became increasingly clear through the submissions and hearings that my concerns were valid and important issues of corruption fraud profiteering and monopolies became increasingly evident it struck me as odd that a tiny percentage of the country are making financial demands of Australian companies to further their own cause and the more I dug the more concerned I was and yet no one in the government seemed to want to pay any attention to it the abuse that came my way from sections of the media sections of the government and sections of the public for even talking about it demonstrated to me how distorted public debate can be so I was fortunate enough to get a broad ranging inquiry up into certification to see whether the halal certification was similar to the kosher certification to the organic certification any other certification that takes place and what we discovered is even more alarming than I thought today the government has refused to implement these recommendations despite the bipartisan agreement that they should be accepted these changes will benefit consumers companies and meat exporters in this country it's completely unacceptable that the Australian Government has either ignored or rejected these practical steps that would benefit all Australians the Halal industry needs to accept clearer labeling to allow consumers to make informed decisions regarding their grocery purchases and it must become a user Pay system at all forms of discrimination must be removed in Australia there are many different kinds of certifications that companies can pay for in nearly all cases it is a deliberate part of their marketing strategy to target a particular group of consumers for example organic certification is for the healthy and environmentally conscious consumer kosher is for the Jewish consumer in nearly all cases the certification is clearly marked these certifications are not hidden nor are they profiting from the wider market who do not want to pay more for these certifications the curious thing is that halal certified products are not usually clearly marked on labels in fact the certification is often hidden or very difficult to find how does the consumer either Muslim or non-muslim know that this product is suitable where's the choice why is it hidden why a non-muslim consumers subject to these certifications you know you have some religions some branches of Christianity of Judaism certainly of the Sikhs where actually if something has been through a halal ritual slaughter they're simply not allowed to partake in that so clear labeling is important the next time you buy have a look see if it's hell I'll certified what needs to happen is the government needs to act it needs to enforce strong labeling requirements remove the profiteering from halal certification and groups that want particular food produce a particular way should pay for that themselves I value and believe in the democratic and free society we enjoy in Australia I value and believe in freedom of religion I have a problem though when one religion or religious practice is imposed upon me and leaves me with little or no choice it is my assertion but halal certification practices are in fact imposed upon me and our society often without consumer knowledge or consent many people who speak out against halal certification are labeled as bigots or racist I have never heard someone who criticizes the Catholic Church labeled a racist or a bigot speaking out against communism it's not seen as an attack on Chinese or North Korean people you would certainly be seen as an idiot to call anti-communism racism and yet anyone who wants to discuss the religious political ideology known as Islam is shouted down which ridiculous name-calling why is Islam as a subject untouchable and off-limits this kind of behavior is not conducive to consumer confidence it is simply rude arrogant and dismissive of genuine concerns imagine if it were discovered tomorrow that a Christian Church all leader had been growing rich from a certification scheme on products imagine if it were discovered they went around to companies charging fees for inspections to make a permissible imagine if they started calling their detractors racists and bigots because they objected to this fee can you imagine the media criticizing and mocking anyone who objected to a Christian leader becoming a millionaire from such practices that would never happen nor should it there would be outrage expressed all over the country it sounds ridiculous but that is exactly what is happening with halal certification no one in Australia would tolerate such a scheme if it were perpetuated by right-wing fundamental Christians and yet we seem to live in this politically correct bubble which makes it taboo to criticize Islam but you can criticize just about anything else and because we demand a choice and transparency in this industry we are called racists and bigots if your argument for halal certification is you know to be all warm and fuzzy when it comes to cultural understanding you would also want clear labeling for those other people that are in cultures where they can't actually partake in in something that's gone through a halal ritual slaughter the other thing the Australian consumer needs to know about is whether money from their purchase will fund a religious organization whether it be Islamic Hindu Jewish or Christian so they can make a choice about whether they want their money to go to that organization look how long certification concerns a lot of people and people just don't want to be forced to pay for a product where part of the money is going off to a religious organization to basically fund elements of the propagation of that religion and I you know I can clearly understand that country and that's what's beautiful about Australia but at the same time specific group should not be using certain things certain from different countries onto the people that are here many companies have paid halal fees despite their products already being permissible for Muslims to consume the requirements for a product to be halal or permissible basically means no pork alcohol or carrying most people can read the labels to determine whether or not a product is suitable as a result of education market response and consumer pressure quite a few companies have now reconsidered paying halal fees on products that are already considered halal well firstly I think domestically it's entirely unnecessary I mean we have you know maybe less than two percent of the population are Muslim or identifies Muslim most of them are not observant Muslims and yet suddenly we're certain certifying water all our livestock our food produce it's entirely unnecessary it's expensive and I think it's a scam and that's been proven by the evidence in the Senate committee inquiry many halal certifiers disagree about what constitutes allow a lot of the organization's say on their websites products such as honey milk nuts grains fish are all naturally hello that is no fees are required why is that these companies are paying money to state the obvious and they're not disclosing it to the consumer why are some companies lying about halal certification you know there are a whole bunch of grubs in this industry who are crooks and that's why I have no shame or compunction in saying the industry itself is corrupt and it needs to be redeemed if it is in our national interest to have our export markets about all these export markets available to us well let's clean it up let's stop the roids and let's stop certification in Australia on a woods on the widespread scale that are currently used there is a large level of concern within the community about halal certification there are many examples of how pervasive halal practices have become in Australia in many cases they are unnecessary and not even predominantly for the Muslim market this is just one example from the chicken industry there are plenty more like it 5% of chicken processing is exported yet most is for domestic consumption more than 70% of chicken processed in Australia is halal certified less than 5% of this is exported primarily to non-muslim markets so why are these companies paying around $40,000 a year to be halal certified why is it that around 6 to 7 Muslim only male only halal slaughterers are employed to pray and observe on-site most lawyering is done by Machine and the Muslim only male only employee is therefore an Islamic religious ritual which is totally irrelevant to most Australians dear really except that those wages and certification fees are absorbed by the chicken processor and not passed on to the consumer usually at this point the naysayers like to jump on that it's for export bandwagon well chicken org dot au reports the following this means that virtually all chicken meat eaten in Australia is grown in Australia so almost all chicken meat produced in Australia is consumed locally with just under 5% being exported Australian chicken meat is exported primarily to South Africa the Philippines Hong Kong Singapore and the South Pacific Islands these are not even primarily Muslim countries the extent of halal certified products has clearly gone way beyond what both Muslim and non-muslim consumers would deem necessary the governments do have competing interests and you know there's only half a dozen of the serious media exporters or so and they probably pack less clout than you know the hundreds of thousands of Muslim voters and you know some of the foreign countries that they want to maintain diplomatic ties to we have seen through the inquiry process that 95% of chicken meat in Australia is sacrificed to Allah even though there is no export market for chicken in Australia but the real rought are going on domestically there is no need for a halal certification industry like we've got in this country and you can compare it and we did compare it with with you know the kosher certification which is run not-for-profit it's tailor-made and the cost is inevitably borne by the small section of the community that look for that product we look for the organic certification which is incredible and people are opting into that but there's no way of except effectively opting out of this halal certification companies hide it they won't disclose how much is paid all the evidence is it's it's coercive and if you go to you know an abattoir you don't see too many non-muslim women working there because it's a closed shop and this is thuggery of the highest order it is it is something we wouldn't accept from any Union but why are we accepting it from the union of halal certified I have been lobbied by the meat industry around those senate's recommendations the main industry do want to see the Senate recommendations regarding export markets resolved in fact what they think would be the best this in some respects would be to have a system whereby if something is for an export halal market that that's the stuff that's actually certified and I pay for that and the meat that's for the domestic market they don't have to pay for it it is very difficult to determine the actual cost of halal certification in Australia there is a great deal of secrecy most of the companies asked say it's against their policy or against their contracts to disclose the amount of halal certification despite this we discovered there is a very large price range when it comes to halal certification we know a chicken delivery van had to pay several hundreds per year even though there was no difference to his van whether he paid the fees or not he was merely transporting the chicken which he had picked up from a halal certified factory factories pay tens of thousands a year plus three cents per sticker and that was a couple of years ago a to milk told us that they were quoted around seven thousand dollars per year they didn't go through with it copy code told us that they were charged one thousand five hundred dollars a year to have one product halal certified a confectionary suppliers said that they were quoted one thousand three hundred and seventy five dollars but didn't go with it as they were not manufacturing or retailing the product and it seemed unnecessary others like Florio have stated in the media they pay around one thousand dollars a year despite the fact their products are halal anyway it is interesting to note that in some federal court documents that are available the cost of halal certification is much higher it says the ordinary license fee for chicken kebab retailers was five thousand dollars per annum the license fee for wholesalers such as quality kebabs without GST was twenty seven thousand and ninety dollars in 2012 thirty three thousand five hundred and eighty dollars in 2013 and thirty four thousand five hundred and ten dollars in 2014 we also know abbatoirs in queensland are having to fork out up to 27,000 dollars per month for halal certification money which is allegedly being used to fund islamic schools and mosques according to reports in several media outlets no matter what you know evidence is presented to the contrary there are none so blind as those who will not see and there are plenty of blind people when it comes to what's happening with funds from halal and how it's been misused internationally against Western interests government regulations should be capping the price of halal certification to ensure that it is simply cost recovery you know maybe an ordinary wage for the people involved we're doing this certification but that's about it I mean you know massive profits above cost of recovery and taking an average living wage you gotta start questioning why they're doing that and the answer we know is to propagate their religion now there's a very big question around the ethics of that it's vital that people understand the link between halal certification and Islamization it is why we've made this documentary mosques and Islamic schools teach the Quran it's not illegal to teach the Quran in Australia however many Australians are not in agreement with what is taught in this book in equality of women homosexuals and minority groups is taught in Australian mosques funded by the profits of halal certification so why should non-muslim Australian consumers contribute towards such practices Islam is divisive and is anathema to everything that we stand for including our democracy what is Sharia Sharia means the way or path Islamic sharia refers to the whole system of principles and rules which a Muslim is required to live by it relates to both criminal and civil justice and it also regulates personal and moral conduct Sharia goes way beyond food and halal but the point we want to make is the desire for Sharia to be accepted as a part of our mainstream society so the money that is paid out in fees for halal certification is used to fund in part or whole Sharia in Australia for example the Supreme Islamic Council of halal meat in Australia our registered charity earning more than a million dollars a year their purpose is stated on their website as advancing religion how do they fund it primarily through the shopping purchases of non-muslim consumers no informed consent has been given by the majority of consumers and there is a great need for this information to be present on the labels the Islamic Council also refers to Sharia on their website Islam is not a mere religion it is a way of life with rules and manners governing every facet of life since food is an important part of daily life food laws carry a special significance an Islamic leader quoted as saying let's dominate the world through halal this is another example that halal and Sharia go hand in hand without Sharia there is no such thing as hello as a former nurse I care about the treatment of women and children and last year alone the Australian Federal Police investigated 69 cases of forced underage marriage some as young as 9 no that is not acceptable and it's estimated that in this country close to 83,000 women have been subjected to female genital mutilation we're also recognizing polygamous marriage under Section 6 of the Family Law Act provided the marriages carried out overseas we recognize polygamous marriage all of these things are part of Islam and Sharia and it's not acceptable there's not a Council Victoria actually advocated so I to a parliamentary inquiry as to why Sharia law should come into Australia and we should accept it when it comes to family law now I can't think of a worse outcome quite frankly having Sharia law a law that puts women on a very different level to men that is sexist being part of our family law system without a doubt what we can say is that this clear discrimination and in Australia we would say that men and women are they call 40q Society is a human rights organization we are concerned about the impact of Islamic sharia on our society discussing Islam is not about denigrating Muslims or hating anyone and it's not a right or a left wing issue it is a human rights issue do your own research go there there are plenty of sites there are plenty of Islamic sites that are available that will provide you information about halal certification that will provide you information about Sharia law go and actually have a look at the Islamic websites that promote the proper understanding of Sharia law and you will be surprised to find how wide Sharia law goes from the criminal regulations such as a death for apostasy all the way through to how a husband should treat or mistreat his wife all the way through to how a person should wash their hands the last thing we want is a system that brings Islamic law into Australia imposes it on our food and spreads from there in the USA Canada and France there have been proven links between halal certification organizations Islamic charities and terrorist organizations it is reasonable that these links are thoroughly investigated here in Australia in Australia the government issued this report from the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2011 titled money laundering and terrorism financing risks to Australian nonprofit organizations it is concerning that charities in particular are thought to provide terrorists with the ideal vehicle with which to both generate support for their activities and propagate their particular ideologies the report also states there exists many examples of organizations which in addition to their violent activities devote significant time and resources to take care of the poor in a more or less institutionalized way so called asset substitution where funds are interchanged between legitimate and illegitimate users is seen as a particular issue and is carried out by groups such as Hamas Hezbollah and the LTTE these groups are recognized as sponsoring a combination of humanitarian and terrorist activities some of the Islamic charities that receive halal certification funds or some of the organizations in Australia that receive halal certification funds then go on and support Islamic movements or organizations internationally that do have links to groups like Hamas or Hezbollah or are supporting agendas that are against the national interest now one of those I think is H AI human appeal International and they've been linked to those sorts of outfits and yet we have Islamic halal certifiers in this country proudly talking about the money they give them austrack least financial contributions through formal charitable donations as one of the three most common methods by which terrorism funds are raised in Australia more recently AHS track published this report terror financing Australia 2014 the report says some Australia based charities and NPOs have been exploited by terrorist groups to raise relatively large amounts of money over time these organizations can be exploited in a number of ways charities and NPOs can be used to disguise international funds transfers to high-risk regions funds raised for overseas humanitarian aid can be commingled with funds raised specifically to finance terrorism funds sent overseas by charities with legitimate intentions can also be intercepted when they to the destination country and siphoned off the use by terrorist groups the government really does have an obligation to step in and make sure that it's regulated appropriately it seems that austrack knows for certain that charities and npos have been used to fund terrorism and yet there is no disclosure charges have not been laid and one could presume they are still operating perhaps if organizations and individuals were not able to profit ear from halal certification the risks of funding terrorism would be decreased we know in the USA France and Canada this is exactly how extremist groups have been funded it really must be noted that many Muslims also speak out against the current use of halal fees and practices an imam from South Africa delivered a comprehensive sermon about it a few years ago he said hello stamps have knowingly been granted two products later found to not be halal at all and it is happening here with the desire for profit getting in the way of common sense and stamps being sold to be affixed on products such as water toothpicks and black pepper this is a clear misuse of the system we're saying evidence in Indonesia I believe the council there shakes that determine what's not they raised questions about one Australian certification company and if you dig deep on the net you'll find many other cases overseas where our certification company is right across the world not just in Australia have been called into question one of them actually was done for putting pork meat in a product in Europe and you would think that for the integrity of the halal system themselves they want it regulated stop dodgy operators like that the City Morning Herald have published articles about the very concerning fact that ethic and many Islamic councils control millions of dollars in halal certification fees the money is also a vital subsidy to the new Islamic schools flourishing in Australia Islamic individuals and groups have said themselves that the halal fees could end up funding Islamic extremists the government has a responsibility to ensure that allegations of corruption are investigated predominantly Islamic countries such as Indonesia Malaysia Turkey and Saudi Arabia have one main halal certification body Australia has at least 33 halal certifiers which have formed into two main groups the first is the Islamic incorporated associations of which there are 15 certifiers and the second are private companies or businesses of which there are 18 certifiers really why do we need so many different certifications and what you find though and this is where the problem does come into play is that Malaysia might have one requirement that Saudi Arabia doesn't that Iran doesn't that Iraq does they have to there it's got to be careful working with each of these export markets to ensure that whatever process that we've put in place satisfies that market but you could Whittle it down to probably four or five regulated to stop them from price gouging so go to so I think there is a lot of that that goes on and that's certainly the complaints that come from the main industry that I want to go forward that are they go public for fear that they could be blacklisted by the halal certifiers or they could be charged for some Islamic associations have also formed companies or have registered business names for the purpose of running there how old certification as businesses this is necessary to profit from the gains because incorporated associations are meant to be not-for-profit club or community groups each of these thirty three separate halal certifiers have different labels different standards different qualifications if they have any at all different market accreditation and different motives it's very cumbersome and confusing this is by no means a complete list and some may no longer be certifying at the time of publication they provide similar serve yet some are charities and some are private businesses Australia has approximately half a million Muslims which is around 2.2 percent of the population and 33 known halal certifying bodies Indonesia has 210 million Muslims which is about 84 percent of their population and only one halal certifying body as does Malaysia and all other Islamic countries for that matter and all our government bodies our Islamic trading partners all have just one government-run government regulated halal body Australia's halal industry is an unregulated mess halal certification is not a charity in any way shape or form a charitable organization may run a halal certification company and get the benefits of being a charity and quite clearly it is a business hello certification isn't a charity Oh it's clearly a business there's no charity about it one of the certifies which is that crooked organization called Muslims Australia or ethic when we held them up to account for their financial accounts they couldn't justify legitimize any of it they say that it's a not-for-profit service and yet they were profiteering extraordinarily from it not paying any tax and then those funds were being used to support or indulge the demands of a few and a fake have since been proven we I thought at the time that they had misused taxpayers money it is riddled with corruption and yet they're out there claiming the moral high ground for halal certification it's been clearly shown that the main purpose of halal certification is to raise money for mosques Islamic schools Islamic charities and other Islamic organizations Australians opposed to halal certification and not because they simply want to enjoy the tolerance and freedoms supposedly available to everyone in our democracy I do not want Islamic religious practices imposed upon me and I do not want to fund them that is my democratic right in a free and tolerant society you