A town branded a multiculturalism failure has confirmed its new Nandos restaurant will be serving halal-only chicken.
A report by Professor Ted Cantle branded Blackburn, in Lancashire, one of a the worst UK towns where the dwindling white population created a polarisation with minority groups.
Its segregated pockets of immigrants – along with Slough, Birmingham, Leicester, Luton and Bradford – were also accused of “tending more towards ghettoisation.”
Now Nando’s has confirmed that after studying the racial make-up of Blackburn, it’s new restaurant opening next February will only be serving halal chicken.
Today some non-Islamic residents said they had serious reservations about eating traditionally slaughtered halal meat.
While some expressed religious concerns, as they followed other faiths, the majority raised fears over animal welfare.
The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) have already demanded the Nandos restaurant source chicken from suppliers who do not stun animals before killing them.
Shopworker Ian Bycroft, who works near where the Nandos will be, said: “I’ve been raised Catholic so I don’t see why I have to eat halal meat. They should give you the option.”
Student Cerys Deane, 22, said: “I think the religious killing of animals without stunning is horrible and cruel. I eat fish but don’t eat any meat.”
The South Africa-owned nandos chain has said it made its decision in the old mill town after looking at the ethnic and religious make up of the town.
Yet there is still arguments being made over the type of halal meat it will serve, with an local Islamic dietary expert warning that local Muslims might boycott the restaurant unless it served traditionally slaughtered chicken.
Salim Mulla, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) Halal Committee, is unhappy Nandos is accredited by the London-based ‘Halal Food Authority’ – who demand animals be humanely stunned before being killed.
Instead the LCM favours the more traditional demands of the Leicester-based ‘Halal Monitoring Committee’ – which forbids any stunning before slaughter.
Cllr Mulla said: “We have had a meeting with the Halal Food Authority to discuss their accreditation criteria. “I will be contacting the HFA and Nando’s about this and discussing it with my LCM colleagues to see if we can reach and understanding on this issue.”
The restaurant chain is popular with young people for its spicy Portuguese/Mozambican-based menu. It is first outlet for the chain in East Lancashire.
A Nando’s spokesman: “We’ve now had confirmation that the Blackburn restaurant will indeed be halal.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council youth and leisure boss Cllr Damian Talbot said: “I think its great that Nando’s will be opening next year in Blackburn.
“Deciding to make the restaurant ‘halal’ is a commercial decision but they have clearly taken into account the demographic make-up of the borough.
“I am sure it will be a great success and very popular with the borough’s young people.”
Prof Cantle’s report ‘Is Segregation on the Increase in the UK?’ was published on Tuesday.
It revealed the White British heritage proportion of residents in Blackburn fell from 76 per cent in 2001 to 66.5 per cent in 2011.
Afterwards local Cllr Parwaiz Akhtar dismissed the claims, adding: “It happens naturally because extended families want to live close to each other and close to the mosque.
“It’s not a bad thing and there are lots of opportunities for people, especially young people to mix.”
Shop assistant Galeb Shabir, 22, agreed: “I’ve got lots of friends from all communities. “I don’t think this is true. We have a lot of white customers in the shop.”