More often than not, Religion loves to enforce its culinary rules upon the secular masses: Hindus, for example, don't eat beef (Sacred cows, according to Mark Twain, do make the best burger), Muslims and Jews frown upon pork as if it is some form of a horror freak show (Quite frankly, I think pork is divine!), and Buddhists just about avoid all forms of meat altogether, preferring to adhere to a strict, miserable diet of leaves and shoots (yes, kind of like a panda bear, minus the dark rings around the eyes).
As far as living things go, the need to feed is a definite given: We need food for sustenance, and some of us, including myself, are food connoisseurs who are not exactly biased about the food we eat, as long as it is edible, succulent and delectable. Nonetheless, I, as well as most secular people, understand that some facets of society love to apply their religious prejudices against certain food sources, and no, we are not usually inclined to debunk their myths and prejudices (Other than a snide remark here and there), unless, of course, some insipid moron decides to apply his religiously-slanted palates upon the common masses, as this addle-brained principal of a government school in Singapore surely did.
School's 'halal zone' ruling causes stir
Parents upset; MOE says school's decision wrong; principal reverses his position By Sandra Davie, Education Correspondent
Feb 5, 2008
A PRIMARY school in Jurong West that upset non-Muslim parents by insisting that only halal food could be eaten or taken into its canteen will now overturn its policy.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) told The Straits Times yesterday that Boon Lay Garden Primary had made a mistake, and would let its pupils' parents know.
In a letter to all parents last Friday, principal Wan Imran Woojdy said that since the school canteen had been certified halal, children would not be allowed to bring non-halal food onto the premises.
The school security guard and discipline master had also been checking lunch boxes since last week to ensure pupils complied.
About 20 per cent of the school's 1,700 pupils are Muslims.Halal refers to what is permissible for consumption by Muslims. A product is not halal if it contains, for example, pork or alcohol, both forbidden to Muslims. Boon Lay Garden Primary's move to declare its canteen a halal zone left some non-Muslim parents unhappy.
Three who spoke to The Straits Times said they did not mind that the school canteen sold only halal food, but they felt the ban on taking in non-halal food amounted to discrimination.
Madam Esther Chia, 36, who has two daughters in the school, said one of them resorted to hiding a pork floss bun in her pocket last week to avoid being caught for flouting the new rule.Another parent, Mr Edward Ang, said: 'I have nothing against the school stalls selling only halal food, but they shouldn't restrict kids from eating non-halal food.'
When contacted earlier yesterday, principal Imran said the rule forbidding non-halal food in the canteen had been in place since 2002, when all eight food stalls were certified halal by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
He said that the school decided to enforce the rule as it had a new canteen contractor and had to get recertified by Muis.
'We decided to make the whole canteen halal to provide a common eating space for all our children, whatever their race,' he said.Enforcing Bigotry In The School Canteen
When religious people keep whining about why us secular folks often complain and scoff against their religions, such an incident are stark reminders that if ordinary folks don't wake up and smell the coffee, all too often, religious zealots (And sadly, this time round, it is a school principal) will sneak through just about every tiny crook and cranny to impose their religious laws upon the secularity of government institutions.
In this case, virtually every stall in this particular government school has pandered to the demands of a distinct, Muslim minority by getting their food certified as "halal". While I doubt this has anything to do with political or religious pressuring from school authorities (This, I suspect, is one of the ways stall vendors can earn more money by catering to Muslim children), the principal has nonetheless made use of this paradigm shift to enforce his Syariah-inspired diet upon all and sundry.
And yes, like our good old parochial government, he has the temerity to enforce a ban on non-halal food, a-la "banning the chewing gum" style that has made us the butt of all American jokes: Open your bag kiddo.....holy shit, what the hell is this? Barbecued pork? Be prepared to roast in Allah's hell, kiddo! God hates pork!
By insisting on halal-only food in a school canteen, what kind of a message is the school board sending to the kids? That we are a bigoted Islamic country, where women cannot even be seen in the public eye without a head-to-toe burkha, and crimes are punishable by stoning and amputation? Or is this yet another sinister campaign to sneak more Islamic "values" into our secular system?
Thank goodness, then, that the parents of these kids were disgruntled enough to complain to the Ministry of Education about this errant, bigoted principal. Goodness knows what would happen if they didn't complain: The principal might insist on applying the customary "stoning the disobedient children" on disobedient students.
If school authorities in Singapore persist on applying Syariah laws in school canteens, perhaps I might offer a brilliant suggestion for these beleaguered kids who, like me, have a penchant for good ole bacon:
Remove those stickers from the halal food shelves that sell halal food, and stick them to their pork-filled food packages. That might just elude the nosy school disciple master, or that zanny fundie school principal, from denying the right to eat pork (As if these authorities even have the right to pry into the lunch boxes of kids in the first place!).
-“Pork - no animal is more used for nourishment and none more indispensable in the kitchen; employed either fresh or salt, all is useful, even to its bristles and its blood; it is the superfluous riches of the farmer, and helps to pay the rent of the cottager.”
Alexis Soyer 19th century French chef.