Springingtiger's Blog

Cause For Mutiny

They say that we should learn from history, some people don’t. When I was at school we were taught that India’s First War of Independence was caused by expecting native soldiers to bite open cartridges greased with pork or beef fat which offended both Muslims and Hindus. Now we learn from the news that some food provided to Muslim prisoners is contaminated with pork. I am not a Muslim, I am a Saivite, I don’t eat meat, but I find this offensive.

Whatever reservations one may have about Islam, and I have reservations, Muslims should be accorded the same respect as members of other religions. I would argue that good manners, at the very least, should demand that the dominant, host community should make an extra effort to cater (excuse the pun) for the needs of minorities. That someone has committed a crime does not mean that they should be deprived of their religion. I know from personal experience that the dietary needs of religious minorities are ignored by institutions, I have been given fish in hospital when a Hindu vegetarian meal was requested. Even when provided with a buffet at events, I have been disappointed at the mixing of vegetarian and meat dishes on the same plate. My Father in Law once attended an event for members of minority ethnic communities in the City Chambers where they were provided with platters of both beef sandwiches and ham sandwiches. Again and again complaints have been made, and again and again we are promised that lessons have been learned, and there have been improvements, but it only takes one event like this to suggest that minorities are the object of contempt.

The contamination of prison food was discovered in the wake of the discovery of horse meat in beef burgers, and it can be argued that it was an unfortunate accident. However should we not be more careful with our food. Many people eat horse meat and it’s inclusion in beef burgers may not cause religious offense unlike pork in halal pasties, but it is symptomatic of a careless attitude to food hygiene. It suggests that food companies have insufficient respect for their customers, whether Muslim or otherwise. In a society based on mutual respect these accidents should not happen, that they continue to do so is a rebuke to us all.

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