Legislation requiring animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered is being described by Arabic media as a ban on halal meat, even though halal products can still be purchased in Denmark.
In traditional Islamic halal and Jewish kosher practices, the animal must be conscious at the point of slaughter, but the agriculture and food minister, Dan Jørgensen (S), officially brought an end to the practice on February 17.
The decision may result in an Arabic boycott of Danish beef and poultry products, according to Arab News, an English-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia.
"Denmark is likely to lose millions of dollars in trade and tourism revenues following its ban on Monday on slaughtering animals in accordance with Islamic standards," Arab News wrote yesterday.
"The controversial decision is poised to have a drastic effect on the Danish market since the country is likely to come under a comprehensive boycott as it has on more than one occasion in the past."
Not a ban on halal meat
Despite international criticism, Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera wrote last week that the Danish 'halal law' wouldn't change anything because Danish Islamic leaders had issued a religious decree several years ago saying that animals stunned before slaughter were considered halal in Denmark.
When the law was introduced, it was met with resistance by Muslim and Jewish groups who saw it as an attack on their religious freedom.
Jørgensen responded to the criticism by saying that animal rights come before religion and that there was no record of traditional halal slaughter taking place anywhere in Denmark.