Case Studies of Food or Sickness Fears Stemming from Xenophobia
Due to the rise of immigration and the recent refugee situations, xenophobia has increased globally, according to the United Nations. Xenophobia has manifested in people adopting a fear of or an extremely negative attitude towards foreign food. Fear that they might contract a disease from foreigners is also widespread. This research delves into three specific cases. One is the negative perception of halal meat and products amongst non-Muslim consumers in the UK and Australia. The second looks into the ban of foreign food in Italy. The final case is Algeria's perception of Africans as disease carriers. Although the examples did not come from case studies-as the case studies available are paywalled and not specific to food or diseases-the articles and books clearly demonstrate food and illness-related xenophobia.
NEGATIVE PERCEPTION OF HALAL PRODUCTS
In a book titled "Anti-racist Discourse on Muslims in the Australian Parliament", Australia's Boycott Halal Movement was discussed. The movement was founded in 2014 by Kirralie Smith who claimed that Halal certification fees are being passed on to consumers as tax. She created the Halal Choices website where Halal-certified products are listed so consumers can make informed decisions about the products they are purchasing. Buying Halal-certified products means paying an Islamic religious tax. Smith also argued that these fees are actually used to fund terrorist activities although there was no evidence to this claim. Luke Simpkins, an Australian MP is also an anti-Halal supporter. He even stated that eating Halal food is the first step in the conversion of non-Muslims to Muslims. In addition, Australians complained that "Sharia" was in their food, hidden in cheese packets, unbeknownst to them until they open it. They fear that there is a push for Sharia law in Australia. It was, according to the author of the book, Islamophobic.
Halal food has the same fate in UK where non-Muslim consumers are led to believe that halal meat meant the brutal slaughter of animals. People fear that they are being forced to consume unlabeled Halal meat so they are demanding for clear labeling of meat to ensure that animals were stunned before being slaughtered. Daily Mail UK claimed that animals are dying in agony because Muslims are ignorant about stunning when in fact, 80% of Halal meat in the UK are stunned. According to an article by Food Security and Food Justice of the University of Sheffield, Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt are already employing the technique of stunning animals before slaughtering but this fact was omitted by media. Based on a footage by Animal Aid featuring 13 Halal and non-Halal slaughterhouses that had animal welfare breaches, Daily Mail Online chose to publish the video of animal cruelty in a Halal abattoir. Because of these press releases, the label "Halal" continues to have a negative connotation. The links to the video and recent Daily Mail Online news can also be found at the last part of this research.
ITALY'S BAN ON FOREIGN FOOD
According to an article by Eater, towns in Italy such as Florence, Verona and Venice have been banning foreign food shops selling kebab, fried rice, burger and other ethnic food. They are worried that the culture and decorum of the city will be impacted by such non-Italian food establishments. According to the article, Italians fear that their culture will be displaced altogether and so they resent change and the idea that immigrants are needed for their nation to survive.
ALGERIA'S EXPULSION OF BLACK AFRICANS DUE TO FEAR OF DISEASES
In the Sahara, Black Africans are regarded as disease carriers. Thousands of Black African immigrants have been deported from Algeria because they believe that it would cause a catastrophe. The president of the Algerian National Commission of the Promotion of Human Rights, Farouk Ksentini defended the mass deportation of Black Africans in December 2016 by saying that the refugees would spread AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The president of the Algerian Red Cross, Saïda Benhabylès also expressed the same sentiment and claimed that the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS would become a problem for the Algerian government if the Black African migrants were permitted to stay. They fear that Black Africans and the diseases they think they carry would lead to imminent death.
VIDEOS AND NEWS
Below are links to videos and news where a fear of disease or extreme dislike of food stemming from xenophobia are demonstrated:
A video of a Halal slaughterhouse showing animal cruelty.
News from Daily Mail Online claiming that animals are dying in agony because of Halal.
An international's student account of how she was treated by a university in Russia for fear that she might have the Ebola virus even if she was already cleared by border officials.
The fear and intense dislike of immigrants is causing local nationals to act irrationally towards anything that can be associated with foreigners. In some instances, leaders themselves and media are strengthening people's irrational beliefs out of their own fear of losing control over their own country, fear of terrorism as well as the fear of cultural displacement.