BRISBANE – A new sticker campaign linking halal food to terrorism has angered Australian Muslims, accusing rightist groups of spreading baseless misconceptions about a peaceful Muslim community.
"We are speechless, what do we say about this," Islamic Council of Queensland president Mohammed Yusuf told 7News on Wednesday, July 24.
“There is so much misconception about Halal... it is a simple question of us meeting our religious rights, just like the Jewish community.”
The Muslim uproar has been sparked by the discovery of a jar of coffee with its seal broken at a Woolworths supermarket at Underwood, south of Brisbane, earlier this month.
The jar had a sticker saying ‘‘Beware! Halal food funds terrorists’’.
After search, the stickers were found to be sold by Restore Australia, Restore Australia whose CEO is Mike Holt, the One Nation Party’s candidate for the federal seat of Fairfax.
Holt, who co-founded the organization, says on the company website that Restore Australia is a non-political organization wanting to restore power to the people.
He added that he stood by his website and that Muslims were “forcing a Halal tax on us” through certification which raised money for terrorism.
“The Australian people should be able to vote in a referendum on whether we want to pay a Halal tax or not,” according to the Restore Australia website.
“Plaster the anti-Halal stickers everywhere and help educate Aussies about the creeping attack on our food supply.”
The police investigation ended up in the arrest of a 27-year-old Kingston woman who will front the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Friday charged with one count of product contamination.
After her arrest, Restore Australia posted an appeal on Facebook asking for the name of lawyers who might help her for free.
"Nestle has decided to fight back against our anti-halal sticker campaign by having a 19-year-old girl in Brisbane arrested for 'product tampering'. Alleging that she put an anti-Halal sticker on one of their jars of coffee and then opened it," Restore Australia said.
"Nestle has just... shot themselves in the foot. Instead of doing the right thing and stop selling us out to Islam, they have decided to pick on a young woman and take her to court."
Rejecting claims that sales from Halal food funded terrorism as baseless, the Islamic Council of Queensland announced they will look to see what action they will take.
"We are doing our best to make people understand this process... however people are trying to get political mileage out of this and are trying to inflame the issue at election time," Yusuf said.
"(I) absolutely condemn it in the sense it is highly inappropriate to make these sort of statements when they are not true... the money raised from Halal is funding terrorism is a totally baseless statement," he added.
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.