Butterball’s Thanksgiving turkeys won’t be served with a side dish of Islamic dogma this year.
The company has announced that its turkeys are not slaughtered according to Islam’s halal dietary principles, which say that animals should be killed while conscious and amid the sound of Islamic prayers.
The theological turkey turnabout came after an online protest on the topic last year threatened to sour the public’s taste for Butterball-branded products.
“All Butterball Turkeys are Certified Halal but they are not labeled,” said a 2011 Facebook protest page. “Demand accurate labeling,” it urged.
“At this time, Butterball branded products are not certified halal,” said a company statement on Nov. 19. “This applies to both domestic and international Butterball products.”
However, the company didn’t disavow future Islamic turkeys.
“At Butterball, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide consumers around the world with a variety of wholesome and nutritious products. … We remain dedicated to feeding a diverse, growing global population while adhering to all USDA guidelines.”
Most of Butterball’s turkeys are consumed at Thanksgiving, which began as a Christian celebration of Christian settlers’ first harvest in Massachusetts.
The Facebook protest against Butterball’s halal turkeys was presented as a protest for religious freedom and immigrant integration.
The turkey protest is one small part of a culture conflict that pits diversity against integration.
“Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys … who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom?,” said the Facebook page.
“Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law,” said the protest.
Although many immigrant Muslims happily integrate into American society, and many immigrants from Muslim countries quit the religion, most of the visible Muslim political groups pressure new Muslim immigrants to preserve Islamic dietary rules, education and marriage practices.
The groups also lobby federal, state and local governments to let them manage Muslims’ interactions with schools, employers and police forces.