Net users slam Meituan for implying non-halal food is ‘unsafe, unclean’

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/19 22:53:40

One of China's largest online catering services has sparked controversy after it opened a halal food channel and said they deliver halal food separately to "make people eat more safely."

Screenshots posted on Sina Weibo on Tuesday showed a halal channel on the home page of the Meituan Waimai app.

Although the channel had been removed on Wednesday, the posts sparked heated discussion on Sina Weibo.

Many Weibo users criticized Meituan for discriminating against those who do not believe in Islam, since the slogan implied that the food they eat is "unsafe and unclean."

Some also claimed that Meituan's move would intensify discrimination against Muslims amid a pan-halal tendency in China, a tendency that is regarded by some Chinese religious experts as a sign of Islamic extremism in the country. 

Some Net users also accused Meituan of giving preferential treatment to Muslim people while ignoring people who have other faiths, such as Buddhism, which also has special dietary needs.

They vowed to delete the app, with its rating dropping to one [the highest being five] within one day, while the rating for its counterparts Baidu Waimai and stood at 5 and 4.5, respectively.

However, Meituan also had its defenders.  They said the company's decision is considerate to Muslim people, and that it shows respect to the religion.

Meituan did not respond to an interview request from the Global Times as of press time.

Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing's Minzu University of China, told the Global Times  that "Meituan's move is understandable as it respects the dietary habits of Muslims."

Muslims do not eat pork and have special requirements of processing food, Xiong said, adding that it was considerate of them.

However, Xiong also noted a dangerous pan-halal tendency in China, where the range of halal products and services has spread beyond food, and also covers halal water, halal roads and halal toilets.

The abuse of the concept of halal food only alienates different ethnic and religious groups and would lead to greater misunderstanding, Xiong stressed.

Wang Zuo'an, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, announced in November 2016 that China would seriously address the problem of hyping the halal food concept and abuse of halal logos.

Chinese Muslims should resolutely oppose religious extremism, Wang said, stressing that the development of Islam in China should stick to socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Newspaper headline: Caterer sparks halal food controversy

Posted in: SOCIETY

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