In light of the recent Bill A.10399/S.08291 introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and State Senator Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx) to effectively ban all markets that sell freshly slaughtered livestock in New York City, Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York and signatories strongly oppose this bill as an extreme measure proposed for regulating the sale of meat as it contains consequences for religious communities and the poor.
According to unsubstantiated claims of the proposed bill, these markets supposedly pose a similar threat to the wet markets of Wuhan China, that slaughter exotic and wild animals, not typically consumed by people, in an open setting on streets with high risks of cross- contamination.
These analogies are misleading as the zoonotic Coronavirus that exists in exotic animals cannot be compared to domesticated animals that are routinely treated with antibiotics, and tested in compliance with USDA standards several times at different stages before being sold. New York butcher shops do not operate in open streets, but rather operate in closed and sanitized facilities subject to random inspections and swab tests by the city, state, and federal authorities. Shops that accrue at least three violation points face the risk of being shut down, thus leading to more pressure to maintain sanitation and hygiene.
Furthermore, these markets provide alternatives for customers who want access to meat without preservatives and added hormones, and for those who want to witness more humane slaughtering practices in accordance with religious sacrificial law, unlike meat produced in mass factories with much more horrid conditions. These shops have been in operation for several decades and are vital to the diverse religious and ethnic fabric of New York. For Muslim and Orthodox Jewish communities, these shops are vital for important religious traditions as they allow for the distribution of free meat to the poor during religious holidays. Performing religious rites and observing the sacrifice of animals in accordance with religious law remains obligatory for these groups and cannot be replaced with store packaged meat.
Poultry shops are pillars of the community as they provide fresh and healthier meat alternatives to communities, and provide supplies in times of dire need. Contrary to the claims made by the proposed bill, many livestock processing plants are currently shutting down due to the spread of the Coronavirus and contain hazardous conditions, thus creating shortages of meat in supermarkets. Small poultry shops have been vital in maintaining a consistent source of meat for local communities.
Closing down poultry shops will not only affect religious communities, but it will also restrict choices for local communities, upset the local economy, and possibly lead to more unsafe and unregulated practices of private slaughters of livestock to fulfill religious mandates. The closure of poultry shops will negatively affect small business owners, employees, hatcheries, and local farmers and only exacerbate the cruelties of mass farming and processed meat manufactured by large corporations.
Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, an umbrella organization for over 90 mosques and Muslim-led organizations, and the New York Muslim community are urging the New York State Assembly to not pass Bill A.10399/S.08291 as the facts are being grossly misrepresented. We believe that there are alternatives that could be proposed for better and safer handling of fresh meat to protect our communities without closing down live butcher shops.
Al-Janed Islamic Center
Andalusia Islamic Center
Assafa Islamic Center INC
Arab American Federation
Ar-Rahman Foundation Inc
Baitul Islam Masjid & Community Center Inc.
Baitul Mamur Masjid & Comm Center Inc.
Brooklyn Broadway Jame Masjid & Islamic Center
Brooklyn Islamic Center
Canarsie Islamic Services
Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York (CAIR-NY)
Darul Jannah Masjid & Islamic Center
Futa Islamic Center, Inc.
Harlem Islamic Cultural Center
Hillside Islamic Center
Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center
Ibn Sina Center
The Islamic Civic Association of Staten Island
Islamic Center Of New Rochelle
Islamic Center of Five Town
Islamic Center of L.I.
Islamic Center of Mid Westchester
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) – New York
Islamic Foundation Of New York
Islamic Mission of America -Dawoud
Islamic Society of Bay Ridge
Islamic Unity and Culture Center of Plav-Gusinje
Jamaat Islamic Center
Long Island Muslim Society
MAS Community Center, MAS
MAS Sheepshead Bay Center
MAS Upper NY Bronx Muslim Center
MAS Youth Center
Madina Masjid Islamic Council of America
Masjid Ahlu Sunna Walkhurabba’a
Masjid Al Ansar
Masjid Al Arqam
Masjid Al Ihsan
Masjid Al Rahman
Masjid Al Tawheed
Masjid Allah Akbar
Masjid Darul Da’wah
Masjid Darul Quran
Masjid Ebun Abass
Masjid Highbridge Islamic Center
Masjid Ibaadu Rahmaan
Masjid Omar Ben-Abdel Aziz
Masjid Tajul Huda
Masjid Yusuf Shah
Mid Hudson Islamic Association
Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc.
Musa Mosque Islamic Center – Bronx
Muslim American Society (MAS) – New York
Muslim Center of New York
Muslim Community Center
Muslim Foundation of America
Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)
Nurudeen Islamic Charity Org.
Parkchester Islamic Center
Paterson Mevlana Mosque
Tauhid Center for Islamic Development
United Ulama Council Of USA INC
Westchester Muslim Center
White Plains Islamic Center
Within our Lifetime – United for Palestine Page
Women In Islam, Inc.
Woodhaven Jame Masjid
Yemeni American Association of New York