Anti-halal groups are trying to capitalize on the cafe attack in Sydney


Three people are dead and four injured after a gunman took individuals inside a Sydney, Australia cafe hostage.

Many questions remain unanswered about the incident. Among them: Why the gunman targeted a cafe owned by Swiss chocolateer Lindt.

Several anti-halal sites are not waiting for information.

Instead, they are using the incident to bolster their ongoing fight against halal food in Australia.

For the past five years, the groups have been targeting foodmakers who sell products that have been prepared according to Muslim law.

The campaign’s targets have included not only small producers serving Australia’s Muslim communities, but larger companies seeking to tap into a global market worth hundreds of billions.

Lindt’s food has not been halal certified, meaning its preparation has not been prepared according to Muslim law.

Lindt has not indicated the lack of certification is a political choice. Nevertheless, the company has become an exemplar for the protest groups.

“Surely it is no coincidence that Lindt along with Australian citizens are now being targeted in Sydney,” wrote Boycott Halal In Australia, a Facebook group with more than 40,000 “likes,” shortly after the incident began.

The group’s members had already been contrasting Lindt with Cadbury, which does make halal-certified food, prior to the attack, saying the former should be favored.

Monday, the groups again highlighted the chocolate makers’ differences.

“The main thrust of our BOYCOTT HALAL Campaign has been: BOYCOTT halal certified CADBURY – BUY LINDT instead. Note: LINDT are Non-halal – right back to the source – they buy their cocoa beans from small growers – thus cutting out the halal big boys,”

The group also called on “Imams & Muslim Clerics go to the Lindt Cafe and appeal to the muslim there to walk away now, follow the Peaceful commands of the Quran, before someone gets hurt and give himself up to the Police immediately.”

On its Facebook page, Halal Choices wrote, “Support Lindt. Stay strong, we are with you.”

Halal Choices, and the broader anti-halal campaign, were created in 2009 by an Australian woman named Kirralie Smith, who accused certifiers of “extortion” by charging foodmakers seeking to sell halal products, and said the products weren’t being clearly labeled.

It got a jolt in 2011, when one MP warned about the dangers of buying halal.

“By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing,” Luke Simpkins told Parliament.

The movement, and harassment of Muslims in general, has gone into overdrive this year, thanks in part to reports alleging ISIS was preparing attacks against Australia.

Groups have boycotted products ranging from biscuits to iced coffee. One yogurt company said the campaign had cost them an annual $50,000 contract after it dropped its certification to avoid negative publicity.

“When our small customer base in South Australia are reading this and starting to question us we thought, yeah maybe the negatives outweigh the positive,” Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company sales and marketing manager Nick Hutchinson told ABC.

Byron Bay Cookie Company’s CEO said the boycott campaign had been so aggressive that they’ve had to call the police.

The head of Halal Australia, one of 17 Halal certification businesses in the country, has blasted the movement.

“This is the only country to my knowledge that is involved in making this kind of propaganda, just for nothing,” Dr. Mohammed Khan told ABC. “It’s so counter-productive, it’s a waste of time and energy and money.”

Lindt published a statement on its Facebook page saying they are waiting for updates from authorities on the incident.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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