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Some Perspective on Eateries Going Halal
by David J. Rusin • Feb 19, 2009 at 11:49 am
Last week British tabloids had a field day reporting that the nation's first halal Domino's Pizza outlet had opened in Birmingham, serving food that conforms to Islamic specifications. This means no ham, bacon, or even the standard version of pepperoni:
Many Britons are less than pleased. "It's a disgrace," one pizza lover lamented. "I can appreciate them having it as an option but to have it completely halal is just not on. I'm all for racial and religious tolerance but if anything this is intolerant to my beliefs and discriminatory against me. I had to travel two miles out of my way to their next nearest branch — I was appalled."
Let us take a deep breath and put the case into proper perspective, just as we did when the Islamic characteristics of Church's Chicken became news a year ago.
First, privately owned businesses are under no obligation to offer any specific item or service — hence, the "free" in "free enterprise." Customers therefore have no right to expect a given product to be available in a given location, even if they had purchased it there at some point in the past. The withdrawal of infidel pepperoni may be vexing, but it is not discriminatory.
Moreover, restaurants already alter their menus to accommodate different faiths. Take, for example, the fast-food outlets across the U.S. that will provide an expanded selection of fish sandwiches during Lent. Because Catholics comprise nearly one-quarter of America, this represents good business practice at a time when many people abstain from meat.
Yes, the Lenten example involves addition without subtraction; Burger King will keep selling burgers, while the Domino's has removed pork products entirely. But angry customers with bacon cravings can exercise their clout by doing what the above pizza lover did not: end their patronage of not just a single Domino's, but all restaurants in the chain.
One final note: reports indicate that going Islamic has improved business at the store, underlining the demographic changes now impacting Britain far beyond the realm of pizza toppings.