The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has returned to the spotlight after the IRS gave them back their tax exempt status despite refusing to file while targeting conservative groups. In the heart of New York, they’ve joined forces with other Muslims, including Brooklyn Representative Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., to demand Halal foods be served in New York Cafeterias. They say no to a proposal that this should also include Kosher under religious eating tenants.
In fact, all fourteen of the council members signed on to co-sponsor Espinal’s resolution 54.
The resolution on file states that there is a system with strict guidelines that must be followed on what a student can eat. Espinal went as far as to say that it has caused children to starve for over 24 hours because of their strict diet.
The resolution goes on to say:
Whereas, The practice of Islam is determined by the Islamic teachings as guided by the holy book Quran and the Hadith, and sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, which includes observing dietary laws; and Whereas, Islamic dietary laws delineate foods that are halal, meaning lawful or permitted, and those that are haram, meaning not permitted; and Whereas, Haram foods include pork and its by-products, meat and poultry not slaughtered according to the Islamic dietary law, alcohol and foods prepared with and containing alcohol, foods containing blood and blood by-products, and foods containing whey prepared with non-microbial enzyme, rennet, animal shortening, monoglycerides and diglycerides from an animal source, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and L-cysteine. ~New York City Counsel
The best guess by the mayor of New York is that there may be 13% of school children that are Muslim, and of those he has no clue how many of their families practice the strict halal guidelines, since not all do. However Espinal and CAIR pointed fully at Detroit, with a 35% Muslim school, as what must be done in New York.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Espinal (D-East New York). “I cannot sit idle while children in my district go hungry in school.” ~New York Daily News
When he first pitched the idea of this proposal to the press, he said that all should be included to provide for the religious needs for students, including a Kosher diet. It was also pointed out that Kosher and Halal have similarities on the requirements of no pork, what part of the animal can be consumed, and how the animal should be slaughtered. When it came time for the meeting, the differences between Kosher and Halal became a heated debate, including that unlike Kosher the Muslim children were permitted to eat some shell fish.
The schools fired back saying they were not equipped to offer a bunch of specialty foods and had added a vegetarian option for children who, due to religious reasons, could not eat what was on the menu. They also state that the policy had changed to allow parents to send a meal with their children instead. Espinal and CAIR fired back that this causes the children to starve by eating cold meals or forcing them to eat vegetarian.
They topped it off with a CAIR spokeswoman talking about how hard it was growing up in New York without Halal.
“Growing up in New York City, I, along with many Muslim students, had to struggle during lunch with not having a proper halal meal for the day. The percentage of Muslim children in public schools is growing, and too many children are denied the nutritional benefits lunch would provide because of religious dietary restrictions. As a community, we have to make sure our children receive the best education in environments in which their religious beliefs and practices are respected. No child should leave a lunchroom or enter a classroom hungry.” ~Sadyia Khalique
The resolution was tabled to the Education Committee where the debate will more then likely continue.
It has been noted that the vegetarian menu was set up by the school system to accommodate families that are vegetarian, or that require religious accommodations like Kosher and Halal. It has been stated by the schools that such guidelines may include costly retrofitting of the cafeterias to accommodate these provisions. It is also noted that to date in New York City, there has never been an instance of a religious group, such as a large group of Orthodox Rabbis, marching on the city counsel to demand Kosher meals or any religious meal, until now with CAIR.