Monday, 31 December 2018 11:37

BELGIUM – News site contributes to feeding outrage over Toblerone’s halal certification

The Brussels-based 7sur7 reports that Toblerone chocolate has received its halal certification, but the story is framed to make it look like a secret conspiracy to please Muslim buyers. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for December.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of December, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

7sur7 tobleroneDate of publication: 17 December 2018

Media Outlet7sur7, news outlet based in Brussels


Headline: “What you probably didn’t know about Toblerone”

Description of the anti-Muslim content:  The article reports that Toblerone chocolate received its halal certification in April 2018. Although the recipe had not changed, the ingredients have been slightly altered and now there is no risk of contact with pork or alcohol. The tone of the article, as well as the specific choice of words (“What you didn’t know”, “in all discretion”, “did not want to reveal”) makes it look like the owner of the Toblerone brand, the US food group Mondelez , was involved in a secret conspiracy to please Muslim buyers to the detriment of others.

Myth debunked: Halal is an Arabic word that refers to food, drinks, objects, or behaviours that are permissible according to Islamic law. Halal designation is applied to food that excludes alcohol and pork and, when meat is present, it requires that animals are slaughtered in a specific way. Not having pork, or alcohol, in a bar of milk chocolate is not particularly surprising or remarkable. Yet, the article makes it sound like the company is “guilty” of secretly changing the recipe for “Muslim purposes”.  Framing the story in this way is journalistically irresponsible as it encourages the dissemination of xenophobic narratives on “Islamisation” in Europe and on Muslim people as a covert threat to the West. Once the news on the halal certification was published across European media, it sparked outrage within the far-right, who started boycotting Toblerone. What the boycotters choose to ignore is that Toblerone has always met the halal criteria anyway and that most of the food they produce is already halal-friendly.

More to read:

Mehdi Hasan on the not-so-hidden fear behind Halal hysteria

Someone tried to criticise Kellogg's for going 'team halal' and they got destroyed 

Not Eating the Muslim Other: Halal Certification, Scaremongering, and the Racialisation of Muslim Identity


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