Squawking NIMBYs Fail To Doom Halal Chicken Slaughterhouse

The Alexandria City Council voted to approve the butchery's special-use permit.


Liz Wolfe

A proposed live poultry butcher shop can open in Alexandria, Virginia, the city council decided in a 5-2 yesterday.

The council's vote was a win for the DC Live Poultry Market Corporation, a family-owned halal food establishment (founded as Saba Live Poultry) with 14 locations around the country. But concerned local residents were not happy, reportedly shouting "shame" as councilmembers walked out of the chambers.

Abdulsalem Mused, the business owner, sought a special-use permit because the city's zoning ordinance doesn't specifically allow businesses to keep live animals overnight. Earlier this month, the Alexandria Planning Commission recommended that the council grant him the permit.

"The proposed use would be the first of its kind within the city limits and would provide a convenient location for residents in the city and throughout the region to access halal meat," read a planning commission staff analysis. "The proposed use is located within an area with a mixture of commercial and industrial uses and would have low impact on residential uses within the city."

As The Washington Post reported, several local stores sell halal meat, which must be prepared following the guidelines of Islamic law. However, there are no nearby establishments that butcher animals onsite. While halal guidelines differ across the world, it's generally understood that animals' throats must be severed so they can bleed out, purportedly so there is a minimal amount of suffering (though that's disputed).

Most of Mused's customers—roughly 80 percent, he's said—aren't even Muslim. "Even other customers like the halal ways," he told the Washington Business Journal last month. "It's fresher, healthier, organic, free range, all these good things. Whoever comes and buys chickens from us, after the first time, they always come back."

The planning commission recommended special conditions Mused should be required to follow. The live poultry would have to be kept in the shop at all times. Partly because the room where the live animals would be stored does not have windows, the commission did not expect odor or noise to be major issues.

In his permit application, Mused described the process by which customers would choose the chicken they wanted; employees would slit its throat, clean it, and cut it; and the fresh chicken meat would be bagged and given to the customer. Waste material would be stored in cooler and picked by a third party on a daily basis.

Sounds like a great way to provide customers with freshly killed chicken, right? Not according to a multitude of neighbors and nearby business owners. Their specific concerns varied.

Some thought it would be a bad look for animals to be killed in the vicinity of pet businesses. They also pointed out that the proposed establishment would be on the same street that puts on an annual "Love your Pet Day" block party. "I think it'd be really difficult to get Alexandria together to love your pets if you're walking in front of a slaughterhouse," Frolick Dogs co-owner Kevin Gilliam said at a public hearing earlier this month, according to the Alexandria Times.

Despite the planning commission finding that the establishment would have a relatively low impact, others were worried about potential bad odors and noise. "We don't like the fact that from everything we have read, everything we have seen already is that they are unable to fully contain the smells and the noise and so that is going to impact the quality of life, which is what the city is supposed to look at when they are looking to approve a special-use permit," said Sandy Modell, who works for the dog-training business Wholistic Hound Academy, according to WTTG.

"We are persuaded that the existence of this business would have a significant negative impact on the existing businesses," added the West Bend Business Association in a letter to the city that cited bad smells in proximity of pet businesses, Patch reported.

Prior to the vote, the city council received at least 200 messages from opponents, the Post reported. "Ritual slaughter is decidedly inhumane," one person wrote in a letter that Councilman Canek Aguirre read before the vote Tuesday. "Please don't allow an inherently cruel, bloody and violent business to open shop within [the city's] confines."

In a letter to the editor published in the Alexandria Times, one person even compared slaughtering chickens for food to slavery. "The possibility of having families with children witness truckloads of animals being transported for slaughter is troubling," wrote Gina Lynch. "Old Town has had a disgusting history of slave auctions, and this is the same brutality."

Plenty of people showed up at the hearing to protest. But it didn't end up mattering. "We do have to live within the reality of our society that we do consume meat and meat products," Aguirre said, according to the Post.

It may have been the most sensible statement of the night. Those opposed to allowing the live poultry business likely aren't raising the same uproar over slaughterhouses around the nation. While their concerns about odor and noise may be valid, steps will be taken to minimize those worries.

It seems they're largely angry because the chickens will be killed onsite. This is, of course, ridiculous. Unless you're calling for a total ban on eating chicken, then you shouldn't be upset over where they're being killed.

Mused, for his part, still cares about what his neighbors think. "I'm happy, but I want to make neighbors happy, too," he told the Post. "I may never see the council again, but I will see my neighbors every day."

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  1. Well, it appears Mr. Mused and the Alexandria City Council hit an olfactory nerve or two.

  2. won’t somebody *please* think about the chickens?

    1. I think chickens are tasty and nutritious

  3. “Mused, for his part, still cares about what his neighbors think. “I’m happy, but I want to make neighbors happy, too,” he told the Post. “I may never see the council again, but I will see my neighbors every day.””

    Sounds like a nice guy, or at least plays one on TV.

    1. Yeah, he seems sincere and just wants to sell halal chickens to people who want them.

      Which means he’s totally unprepared for local politics, which is the most vicious kind of politics

  4. People in the West are way too privileged and detached from nature. They watch too many documentaries by animal rights activists and kids shows with anthropomorphic animals and not enough NatGeo and Planet Earth. Being butchered or hunted by a human, with almost any method, is a far better way to die than how 99% of animals would die in the wild. The notion that animals would rather “live free” than in corrals or pens (although not insanely crowded) protected from predators and starvation is a human fantasy, based on flawed views of nature as some serene harmonious world.

    1. Hell, *people* prefer the pens when given a choice.

  5. Not to be a dick, but to be a dick, this makes me wonder about that other comment thread where someone said if you want something to move forward politically, make damned sure you place a Muslim woman as the spokesperson of your movement.

    During the ramp-up of anti-smoking legislation where all smoking in public places was being banned except under an overpass down near the 405 interchange, guess what businesses got an exception to the ban?

    1. BBQ joints?

      1. Well, I’m thinking this is an opportunity for some bipartisan agreements. Start bringing in as many Muslim immigrants as possible, and hire them as spokespeople for the Libertarian Moment(tm). We’d have 50 state reciprocity for conceal carry by the weekend.

        1. The only Muslims in favor of guns are the terrorists.

        2. funny. Mohamed not much of a freedom-rider?

    2. Those owned by Hitler?

  6. First they came for the game fowl…

    1. …and I said nothing for it was extra crispy and delicious…

      1. In the oven or over the grill?

        1. Broasted (deep fried in a pressure cooker).

          1. Broasted chicken is disgusting

  7. Two things. First, my grandmother raised chickens, and I’m pretty sure they’re vegetables with legs. Not a brain to be found in the bunch.

    Second, a lot of people don’t know where Alexandria is. Would it be that hard, as a journalist, to put a VA after the first mention?

    1. What if its in Alabama, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, etc, Seyton?

  8. But in the cartoons, the chickens hop straight into the pot.

  9. Serious Q: What’s the dif between halal & kosher chicken?

    1. The Kosher chicken keeps trying to cross the road into the West Bank.

      1. Clucking “never again, never again” as it urinates and defecates all over the halal’s feeding grounds.

    2. As far as slaughtering goes – halal allows killing of stunned animals and requires prayers before slaughter, kosher does not. A rabbi must do the slaughter for kosher, halal doesn’t care who does it. Residual blood is ok in halal, not in kosher.

      Beyond that, there are tons of individual rules about what you can and can not eat with some (but not anywhere near) complete overlap.

      1. That seems like a lot of rigamaroll for a dill pickle.

      2. Are the same neighborhood objections raised to having kosher chicken slaughter?

        1. Probably not – because no one’s trying to open a kosher slaughterhouse there.

          Its the same reason no one in my neighborhood is opposing the mosque, bombing range, and nuclear power plant that no one is building in my neighborhood.

          And what does this have to do with with your question?

        2. I would go to this place because you know you are getting a fresh chicken.

          To answer your question there are no places like this left in the kosher chicken industry so far as I know. I remember there was one in Chicago when I was younger.

          The kosher chickens, you can get them at Costco anywhere. The biggest supplier is Empire. They have a big modern chicken plant in Pennsylvania. It is good chicken. They actually have a hatchery, chickens raised local with no antibiotics, vegetarian feed, all that kinda stuff.

    3. One is tradition the other is cultural appropriation, as the kiddies like to say.

  10. The best part of this is that the people who are whining the loudest appear to be the same kind of SWPL asswipes who are usually are letting us know that Diversity is Our Strength. I’m grinning from ear to ear.

  11. Halah is the same as Kosher, same basic rules. People upset over Halal meat should also be upset over Kosher meat. But they aren’t. Well… maybe they were fifty years ago when it was still fashionable to be a fucking bigot. But nowadays no one cares about Kosher but will freak out about Halal. Makes no sense.

    Then again, I’m not a stupid city person who things meat comes from a store.

    1. Now a days it is fashionable to be an anti-racist, busy-body, do-gooder, diversitopian, multi-cultural mongering progressive tyrant.

    2. I think they both are barbaric and cruel. Kosher is no better.

      1. The point of both is humane treatment of the animals we eat. That you prefer Chernobog’s hammer is irrelevant.

      2. Are you vegetarian John.

        If not I would ask how do you want your animals raised and killed for you.

        Tyson is not better. Worse actually. At least Empire kosher chicken you can get at Costco is better more healthy raised than that. As are these halal chickens.

        I cannot argue with a vegetarian. There is a moral point which there I understand. I eat beef, chicken, and fishes.

    3. Actually I think things are turning around to where it may again be OK to be anti-Jew but not anti-Moslem, on the “left”.

      Which one lets the chickens run around w their heads cut off? What good is that saying otherwise?

  12. Abdulsalem Mused, the business owner, sought a special-use permit because the city’s zoning ordinance doesn’t specifically allow businesses to keep live animals overnight.

    Does the city’s zoning ordinance specifically allow businesses to have chairs and tables, paint their building white, have glass doors, use electricity, or a billion other things that need to be listed if you’re going to follow a legal regimen of “everything not specifically permitted is prohibited”? Or does the city’s zoning ordinance actually specifically prohibit businesses from keeping live animals overnight? And, if so, I sure would like to know the story behind how it came to be necessary to have such a law, because surely it would exempt pet stores, zoos and circuses, and businesses that use guard dogs, so where and why did it become necessary to tell somebody they couldn’t use their china shop as a bull storage facility?

    1. Without total control and micromanagement, we would plunge into chaos.

  13. Alexandria lowered their standards when they let Amazon in.

    1. That’s Arlington, not Alexandria. (Admittedly, what’s now Arlington was called Alexandria County until 1920.)

      1. Oops. I guess Alexandria wanted to get a leg up on Arlington.

  14. As The Washington Post reported, several local stores sell halal meat, which must be prepared following the guidelines of Islamic law. However, there are no nearby establishments that butcher animals onsite. While halal guidelines differ across the world, it’s generally understood that animals’ throats must be severed so they can bleed out, purportedly so there is a minimal amount of suffering (though that’s disputed).

    It is not humane. it is an incredibly cruel, nasty and barbaric practice. It is not so nasty as to be beyond the realm of freedom of religion. But, it is a disgusting and barbaric practice. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

    1. It’s not much different from US slaughterhouses.


      From the national chicken council

      What is the difference between Halal poultry slaughter and traditional poultry slaughter?
      Halal slaughter is no different than traditional slaughter except that a religious blessing is
      provided during the process – either in person or by a pre-recorded tape. Just like traditional
      slaughter, halal slaughter must comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and
      Inspection Service (FSIS) poultry slaughter regulations relating to sanitation, food safety,
      finished product standards and humane handling.

      Is Halal slaughter inhumane?
      When slaughtering poultry for halal purposes it is mandatory that the birds incur as little pain as
      possible, just as in traditional slaughter. Therefore, immobilization of birds on the slaughtering
      line is permitted, usually by means of stunning, to render each bird insensible to pain, to avoid
      bruising of the carcass and avoid injury to all concerned.


    2. Or any small farm… How exactly do you propose slaughtering a chicken that’s more humane than removing the head.

      My family raises goats and we have raised sheep before. I’ve sold some to an older Bosnian immigrant who would come out to our property and butcher on site. All I can say is never get in a knife fight with that guy because he sure can slit a throat quickly. I suppose shooting them in the head may be a bit more humane but not significantly.

  15. Hmmm…an argument over zoning. Seems kind of…local?

    Could anyone enlighten me as to why Reason (already drunk) would bother with such a…local…issue?

    1. Because it’s a local issue that occurs in lots of localities?

      1. (Reason drove off some commenters by refusing to take up a case of alleged police brutality affecting one commenter’s family. Supposedly too local. Thus Freddy is being sarcastic.)

        1. *adjusts sarcometer*

        2. I am being sarcastic as a way of pointing out Reason only does this when the intersectionality chart points to “Muslim” (see their absolutely cringeworthy “Local Muslim Kids Kicked out of Local Pool for Wearing Cotton” article).

    2. Because it’s local to Washington, DC, the Capital of the Universe.

  16. “Please don’t allow an inherently cruel, bloody and violent business to open shop within [the city’s] confines.”

    We’ve already got local politics, we don’t need anything else.

  17. I observe that – assuming we’re talking about the Alexandria in Virginia – Virginia has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act –


    So if I’m reading it correctly, the halal butcher wins unless restricting his activities is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest.

    Could Alexandria win under that standard?

  18. Some thought it would be a bad look for animals to be killed in the vicinity of pet businesses. They also pointed out that the proposed establishment would be on the same street that puts on an annual “Love your Pet Day” block party.

    Take it from a chicken owner: chickens have personalities and their behavior is interesting. They can be pets but they are not necessarily so. In fact, that would be the exception. They provide eggs and meat. They are farm animals. This argument is absurd, even for the emotion-driven.


  19. Halal Chicken Slaughterhouse was a pro wrestling PPV event I watched a few years back.

  20. Beheaded with a scimitar; that’s how they do it, right?

  21. “one person even compared slaughtering chickens for food to slavery”

    Proof that vegetarians/vegans are insane. Chickens have actually been bred to the point that they can only exist as a food source. If you released them all into the wild today, chickens would become extinct very quickly. There are a few wild chickens left, but the current chickens we know today must be eaten. It would be inhumane not to eat them.

    1. There are a few wild chickens left

      You mean junglefowl? All four extant species seem to be categorized as “least concern” by the IUCN. They are all over South Asia. I know it’s a relative term but I’d guess there’s more than a few left. It also deoends on what domesticated birds you’re talking about. Plenty of birds have gone feral, but the intensively farmed ones likely won’t survive as well as some of the heritage breeds that more closely resemble their wild ancestors. The slavery angle might have some traction if you consider that the meaty animals have been selectively bred to be eaten, so it’s not just a case of animals incapable of being anything other than dinner. It’s a circular argument when one side is characterized as “free the animals!” and the other side is “but they can’t look after themselves” or “they need to be milked” or whatever.

      If everyone just made their own life choices and entered into voluntary transactions based on those choices, that might work. Gee, what’s that called? The vegan thing has been a triumph of proving the success of markets. Want vegan stuff? Cool, here are some options on the market for you! Thanks, capitalism!

  22. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    >>>>>>>>>> http://www.GeoSalary.com

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