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

Bergeaud-Blackler, Florence, Fischer, Johan, Lever, John, (eds.). 2016. Halal Matters: Islam, Politics and Markets in Global Perspective, Abingdon, Oxon/New York: Routledge.

Bevelander, Pieter, Otterbeck, Jonas. 2010. Young People’s Attitudes Towards Muslims in Sweden. “Ethnic and Racial Studies” 33(3): 404–425.

Biernacka, Maja. 2017. Diversity within Islam and its Institutional Representation in Poland, „Culture and Education”/„Kultura i Edukacja”, 4 (118): 122–137.

Bilewicz, Michał, Imhoff, Roland, Drogosz, Marek. 2001. The Humanity of What We Eat. Conceptions of Human Uniqueness Among Vegetarians and Omnivores. “European Journal of Social Psychology” 41: 201–209.

Bilewicz Michał, Marchlewska, Marta, Soral, Wiktor, Winiewski, Mikołaj. 2014. Hate speech in Poland. Summary of the National Opinion Poll. Warsaw: Stefan Batory Foundation.

Bleich, Erik. 2012. Defining and Researching Islamophobia. “Review of Middle East Studies” 46(2): 180–189.

Canan Sokullu, Ebru Ș. 2012. Islamophobia and Turcoscepticism in Europe. A four-nation study. In: C. Flood, S. Hutchings, G. Miazhevich, H. Nickels (eds.), Political and Cultural Representations of Muslims. Islam in the Plural. Leiden: Brill, pp. 97–112.

Capelos, Tereza, van Troost, Dunya M. 2012. Reason, Passion, and Islam. In: C. Flood, S. Hutchings, G. Miazhevich, H. Nickels (eds.), Political and Cultural Representations of Muslims: Islam in the Plural, Leiden: Brill, pp. 75–96.

CBOS. 2013. Opinie na temat dopuszczalności tzw. uboju rytualnego. Komunikat z badań BS/70/2013). http://www.cbos.pl/SPISKOM.POL/2013/K_070_13.PDF, accessed 10.08.2017.

Central Statistical Office of Poland. 2015. Struktura narodowo-etniczna językowa i wyznaniowa ludności Polski. http://stat.gov.pl/spisy-powszechne/nsp-2011/nsp-2011-wyniki/strukturanarodowo-etniczna-jezykowa-i-wyznaniowa-ludnosci-polski-nsp-2011,22,1.html, accessed 15.06.2016.

Cesari, Jocelyne. 2004. When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Chazbijewicz, Selim, Bohdanowicz, Leon, Tyszkiewicz, Jan. 1997. Tatarzy muzułmanie w Polsce. Gdańsk: Niezależne Wydawnictwo ‘Rocznik Tatarów Polskich’.

Cieślik, Anna, Verkuyten, Maykel. 2006. National, Ethnic and Religious Identities. Hybridity and the case of the Polish Tatars. “National Identities” 8(2): 77–93.

Davis, Darren. W., Silver, Brian D. 2004. Civil Liberties vs. Security: Public Opinion in the Context of the Terrorist Attacks on America. “American Journal of Political Science” 48(1): 28–46.

Dziekan, Marek M. 2005. Historia i tradycje polskiego islamu. In: A. Parzymies (ed.), Muzułmanie w Europie, Warszawa: Dialog, pp. 199–228.

Eisenstein, Marie A. 2008. Religion and the Politics of Tolerance: How Christianity Builds Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fischer, Johan. 2011. The Halal Frontier. Muslim Consumers in a Globalized Market. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Gibler, Douglas M. 2012. The Territorial Peace: Borders, State Development, and International Conflict. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gibson, James L., Gouws, Amanda. 2003. Overcoming Intolerance in South Africa: Experiments in Democratic Persuasion. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Gibson, James L. 2004. Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation? New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Gibson, James L. 2006. Enigmas of Intolerance: Fifty Years after Stouffer’s Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties. “Perspectives on Politics” 4(1): 21–34.

Gibson, James L. 2008. Is intollerance incorrigible? An analysis of change among Russians. In: I. Creppell, S. Macedo (eds.), Toleration on Trial. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 257–286.

Gołębiowska, Ewa 1995. Individual value priorities, education, and political tolerance. “Political Behavior” 17(1): 23–48.

Gołębiowska, Ewa 2006. Gender and Tolerance. In: G. Moreno-Riaño (ed.), Tolerance in the Twenty-first Century: Prospects and Challenges, Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 113–138.

Gołębiowska, Ewa 2009. Ethnic and Religious Tolerance in Poland. “East European Politics and Societies” 23(3): 371–391.

Gołębiowska, Ewa 2014. The Many Faces of Tolerance: Attitudes Toward Diversity in Poland. Abingdon, Oxon/ New York: Routledge.

Green, Todd H. 2015. The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Hahn, Carole L. 2014. Gender and Civic Education. In: B. C. Rubin, J. M. Giarelli (eds.), Civic Education for Diverse Citizens in Global Times: Rethinking Theory and Practice. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 45–76.

Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, Capelos, Theresa, Provost, Colin. 2002. The Consequences of Terrorism: Disentangling the Effects of Personal and National Threat. “Political Psychology” 23(3): 485–509.

Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, Taber, Charles, Lahav, Gallya. 2005. Threat, Anxiety, and Support of Antiterrorism Policies. “American Journal of Political Science” Vol. 49: 593–608.

Husfeldt, Vera. 2002. Negative Attitudes towards Immigrants: Explaining Factors in Germany, Switzerland, England, and Denmark. In: C. Papanastasiou (ed.), Conference Proceedings of the 1st IEA International Research Conference. Nicosia: Cyprus University Press, pp. 57–68.

Imhoff, Roland, Recker, Julia 2012. Differentiating Islamophobia: Introducing a New Scale to Measure Islamoprejudice and Secular Islam Critique. “Political Psychology” 33(6): 811–824.

Kabir, Nahid. 2006. Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Australian Media, 2001–2005. “Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs” 26(3): 313–328.

Kubicki, Paweł. 2006. Społeczność muzułmańska w Polsce. In: K. Górak-Sosnowska, K. Pędziwiatr, P. Kubicki (eds.), Islam i obywatelskość w Europie, Warszawa: Elipsa, pp. 124–137.

Lever, John. 2016. Re-imagining Malaysia: A postliberal halal strategy, In: Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, Johan Fischer, John Lever (eds.), Halal Matters: Islam, Politics and Markets in Global Perspective, Abingdon, Oxon/New York: Routledge, pp. 19–37.

Lindeman, Marjaana, Sirelius, Minna 2001. Food Choice Ideologies: the Modern Manifestations of Normative and Humanist Views of the World. “Appetite” 37: 175–184.

Marcus, George E., Sullivan, John L., Theiss-Morse, Elizabeth, Wood, Sandra L. 1995. With Malice Toward Some: How People Make Civil Liberties Judgments. New York/Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Mróz, Lech. 1985. Świadomościowe wyznaczniki dystansu etnicznego. „Etnografia Polska” 23(2): 157–168.

Nowicka, Ewa, Nawrocki, Jan, eds. 1996. Inny – Obcy – Wróg. Warszawa: Oficyna Naukowa.

Olszewski, Wojciech. 1985. Dystans etniczny Polacy-Cyganie (na przykładzie dzielnicy Poznania). „Etnografia Polska” 29(2): 241–258.

Ozan Kalkan, Kerem, Layman, Geoffrey C., Uslaner, Eric M. 2009. Bands of Others? Attitudes Toward Muslims in Contemporary American Society. “The Journal of Politics” 71(3): 1–16.

Park, Robert E. 1924. The concept of social distance as applied to the study of racial attitudes and racial relations. “Journal of Applied Sociology” 8: 339–344.

Rowatt, Wade C., Franklin, Lewis M., Cotton, Marla. 2005. Patterns and Personality Correlates of Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Christians and Muslims. “Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion” 44: 29–43.

Shamir, Michal, Sagiv-Schifter, Tammy. 2006. Conflict and Political Tolerance in Israel. In: G. Moreno- Riaño (ed.), Tolerance in the Twenty-first Century: Prospects and Challenges. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 97–112.

Siedlecka, Ewa. 2014. Trybunał Konstytucyjny wyrokiem w sprawie uboju rytualnego obudził emocje antysemickie i antyislamskie. „Gazeta Wyborcza”, 16.12.2014. http://wyborcza.pl/1,75968,17136617,Trybunal_Konstytucyjny_wyrokiem_w_sprawie_uboju_rytualnego.html?disableRedirects=true, accessed 24.04.2018.

Sinacka-Kubik, Edyta. 2011. Wpływ wstrętu na uprzedzenia etniczne kobiet i mężczyzn. “Psychologia Społeczna” 16(6): 24–33.

Słomczyński, Kazimierz M., Shabad, Goldie. 2010. Public Support for Military Actions against Terrorism: The Effects of Age, Generations, and Political Orientations. “Polish Sociological Review” 170: 171–190.

Stephan, Walter G., Boniecki, Kurt A., Ybarra, Oscar, Bettencourt, Ann, Ervin, Kelly S., Jackson, Linda A., McNatt, Penny S., Renfro, C. Lausanne. 2002. The role of threats in the racial attitudes of Blacks and Whites. “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin” 28: 1242–1254.

Stolz, Jörg, Usunier, Jean-Claude. 2018. Religions as Brands. New Perspectives on the Marketization of Religion and Spirituality. In: J.-C. Usunier, J Jörg Stolz (eds.), Religions as Brands. New Perspectives on the Marketization of Religion and Spirituality. London: Ashgate, pp. 3–26.

Sullivan, John L., Piereson, James, Marcus, George E. 1993. Political Tolerance and American Democracy. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.

Szumigalska, Agnieszka, Bazan, Monika. 2014. Ritual slaughter issue in Poland. Between Religious Freedom, Legal Order and Economic-political Interests. “Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe” 1(7): 53–69.

Sztop-Rutkowska, Katarzyna, Kiszkiel, Łukasz, Mejsak, Rafał. 2013. Dystans społeczny jako element postawy wobec grup obcych w środowisku lokalnym na przykładzie mieszkańców Białegostoku. „Pogranicze. Studia Społeczne” 22(17): 139–156.

Szwed, Robert. 2004. Społeczne i przestrzenne uwarunkowania dystansu etnicznego. In: Statystyka i data mining w badaniach naukowych, Kraków: StatSoft Polska, pp. 45–59.

Tayob, Shaheed. 2016. ‘O You who Believe, Eat of the Tayyibāt (pure and wholesome food) that We Have Provided You’— Producing Risk, Expertise and Certified Halal Consumption in South Africa, Journal of Religion in Africa, 46: 67–91.

Tłuściak-Deliowska, Aleksandra. 2014. Dystans społeczny wobec Innych: Analiza postaw młodzieży wobec wybranych grup narodowo-etnicznych. “Człowiek-Niepełnosprawność-Społeczeństwo” 26(4): 85–104.

Tyrer, David. 2013. The Politics of Islamophobia: Race, Power and Fantasy, Decolonial Studies, Postcolonial Horizons. London: Pluto Press.

Unger, Rhoda. 2006. Untangling the Web: Threat, Ideology, and Political Behavior. In: P. R. Kimmel, C. E. Stout (eds.), Collateral Damage: The Psychological Consequences of America’s War on Terrorism. Westport/London: Praeger, pp. 79–108.

Verkuyten, Maykel. 2010. Multiculturalism and Tolerance. An Intergroup Perspective. In: R. J. Crisp (ed.), The Psychology of Social and Cultural Diversity. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 147–170.

Voloder, Leyla. 2015. The “Mainstreaming” of Halal: Muslim Consumer-Citizenship in Australia, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 35 (2): 230–244.

Warmińska, Katarzyna. 2011. Tatarzy polscy – tożsamość kolektywna grupy w kontekście regulacji ustawowych. „Przegląd Tatarski” 10(2): 17–21.

Warmińska, Katarzyna. 1999. Tatarzy polscy. Tożsamość religijna i etniczna. Kraków: Universitas.

Widmalm, Sten. 2016. Political Tolerance in the Global South: Images of India, Pakistan and Uganda. Abingdo, Oxon/New York: Routledge.

Wike, Richard, Grim, Brian J. 2010. Western views toward Muslims: Evidence from a 2006 crossnational survey. „International Journal of Public Opinion Research” 22(1): 4–25.

Wilska-Duszyńska, Barbara. 1993. „My” i „oni” – młodzież wobec etnicznie „obcych”. In: M. Jarząb-Mrozicka (ed.), Tolerancja i uprzedzenia młodzieży. Warszawa: Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii PAN , pp. 11–85.

Zick, Andreas, Küper, Beate, Hövermann, Andreas. 2011. Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination. A European Report. Berlin.