Walk into one of the ubiquitous Bishkek butcher shops advertising itself as “halal” and ask what the word means, and you are likely to receive a shrug and a gesture pointing to a certificate on the wall. In Kyrgyzstan, where the observance of Islamic customs appears to be spreading quickly, there’s little agreement about how to prepare meat in a religiously proper way.
Traditionally, “halal” refers to “lawful” or “permissible” foods accepted by Islamic law, which forbids followers from eating pork and requires a specific method of slaughter. Many Muslim countries have a national halal standard agreed upon by authorities, clergy and producers of halal goods. Kyrgyz law allows individuals and entrepreneurs to issue their own halal certificates, and the Ministry of Economy’s Halal Division is supposed to ensure compliance with an approved standard.
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