Ritual Slaughter and Feelings of Threat Amongst Polish Young Adults. A Study on University Students’ Attitudes in the City of Bialystok

Maja Biernacka,

Barbara Jancewicz


The article is dedicated to the study of the attitudes of Polish young adults towards ritual slaughter,  which was conducted in the year 2015 on a sample of university students in Białystok, Poland. It is a part of an intersectional research on subjects’ attitudes towards the presence of Muslims, exemplified by various forms of their participation in society, including the expression of their beliefs and everyday practices which are grounded in Islamic tradition. The article presents an analysis of attitudes towards ritual slaughter with the aim of discovering what could shape respondents’ approval vs disapproval. It entails three contextualized scenarios related to the halal issue: a) ritual slaughter conducted in Poland, b) import and c) sales of meat obtained in concordance with Islam, including the no-stunning principle. For the purpose of investigating mechanisms of disapproval, the project encompasses comprehensive dependent and independent variables, i.e. subjects’ denomination and religious practice, political orientation, self-defined local, national and European identities/territorial attachment and the feelings of threat – the latter is prompted by conventional representations of Islam and its disciples as being the enemies of the West and potential terrorists.
The feeling of threat is of significant interest in the article as the existing literature on attitudes towards Muslims and other minority groups suggests that it could be a factor in attitude formation towards otherness, namely: that its higher levels are related to the disapproval of ‘the others’, their cultural characteristics and practices. Therefore, we suspect that generalized feelings of threat may translate into negative attitudes towards the practice of ritual slaughter, i.e. preparation of meat in line with the requirements of Judaism and Islam. We find support for this hypothesis but only with respect to feelings of national threat.

Słowa kluczowe: Muslims, ritual slaughter/halal, (dis)approval, personal/national threat, Poland

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