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Social definitions of halal quality

The case of Maghrebi Muslims in France

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Florence Bergeaud-Blackler

This chapter suggests that the quality 'halal' is the result of a social and economic consensus between the different generations and cultures of migrant Muslims as distinct from the non-Muslim majority. It describes a brief history of the development of the halal market from its origins in France, taking the region of Bordeaux as an example, and shows that the Muslim authorities took very little part in that development. The chapter also suggests that the end-consumer, through the retailer, possesses control over the definition of the halal quality of meat. One of the factors accounting for the rapid establishment of halal butchers is certainly the absence of pork. For the anthropologist Mohammed Benkheira, the pork prohibition is so well internalised in Maghrebi Muslims that it must be distinguished qualitatively from the alcohol prohibition.