RIYADH, Feb 23 – Denmark is likely to lose millions of dollars in trade and tourism revenues following its ban Monday on slaughtering animals in accordance with Islamic standards.
Halal (Islamically slaughtered) beef and poultry products are imported in large quantities by Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf countries. In fact, around 55 percent of Danish exports to the Kingdom are food-based.
The controversial decision is poised to have a drastic effect on the Danish market since the country is likely to come again under a comprehensive boycott as it has on more than one occasion in the past.
The Danish government has already come under fire by religious rights groups in Denmark. â€œDanish Halal,â€ a nonprofit group, has described the ban as a â€œclear infringement of religious freedom.â€ The ban has also been branded â€œanti-Semiticâ€ by Jewish leaders.
Dan Jorgensen, the Danish food minister, made matters worse, responding to the criticism on Denmarkâ€™s TV2, saying â€œAnimal rights come before religion.â€
The decision effectively ends the sale of halal products, much to the anger of residents across the Saudi Kingdom.
Sources at the media department of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) have said that the ban should be lifted with immediate effect, saying that it would strain bilateral trade between the two countries, estimated at SR6 billion.
Fahd Mohammed Al-Hammady, chairman of the National Committee for Contractors at the CSC, told Arab News that he staunchly opposes the ban on halal food.
â€œThis is sheer hypocrisy on their part. They slaughter giraffes in public to feed lions, yet they ban the slaughter of meat in accordance with religious standards, which is a clear infringement of religious freedom,â€ said Taha bin Saeed, a Saudi citizen.
A tour operator at the Fursan Group said that Denmark could have received a large number of tourists thanks to the Schengen visa, which enables non-EU nationals to travel freely to 25 European countries. The ban, however, will definitely make Saudi and Arab tourists reluctant to visit the country and will have a negative effect on tourism, said one agent.
The Danish Embassy in Riyadh could not be reached for comment during the weekend. â€“ Arab News