Tamil Nadu-based right-wing party Indu Makkal Katchi posted a tweet thread where the opening tweet reads, “In a court case they admitted that spitting is what made Halal complete, through out the Nation including TN. [sic]” The party claimed that the Muslim community admitted in court that it is essential to spit on food to make it Halal. This tweet has been retweeted over 1,500 times.

The second tweet shows a screenshot of an article in the legal news portal Bar and Bench. The excerpt reads, “The religious scholars of the Muslim community have been proclaiming publicly that saliva is a necessary ingredient for certifying Halal in the preparation of food materials. The religious scholars took the above view by interpreting holy texts and its valid interpretations. However, different views were also expressed by a section of religious leaders. In view of the recent controversy as regards spitting on food materials to make it Halal and the responses from religious scholars, people at large are highly anxious and obnoxious on the use of Halal certified food materials even for household purposes. It is highly disheartening to see that the food materials prepared following the rituals and religious practices of another religion with its certification is accepted as food material for the preparation of Nivedyam/Prasada in a Hindu temple having its own rituals and customs.”

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this claim on our WhatsApp helpline number (+91 76000 11160). The message has been forwarded many times on WhatsApp.

Alt News used the social media tool CrowdTangle and found the above-mentioned tweet thread was shared on several pages/groups with a high follower count. Some of these accounts are Tamil-language page ‎Shrines-Glories-Pilgrimages‎ [1 lakh followers]; I support Pushpendra Kulshrestha [over 1 lakh followers] Hindu Unity [over 1.5 lakh followers]; The Patriots (Bharat) [over 30K followers]; Eternal Bharat [over 20K followers]; Hindu (official) [over 15K followers].

Fact-check

Indu Makkal Katchi’s opening tweet also includes a seven-second clip that shows a Muslim cook spitting or blowing on dough. Readers should note that in the past year several such videos have been shared along with the claim that Muslims are conspiring against Hindus. Anti-Muslim disinformation campaigns during the COVID-19 outbreak last year had sparked the claim that Muslims have been “spitting” on food.

A keyword search reveals that the excerpt in the Bar and Bench screenshot is from a report on a November 27 hearing in Kerala High court — S. J. R. Kumar vs The Travancore Devaswom Board & Ors. The Bar and Bench article recognises the excerpt as part of a “plea” — highlighted in red in the screenshot below. Therefore, members of the Muslim community did not make the claim but the petitioner SJR Kumar did.

The opening lines of the excerpt are, “It is submitted that the Sabarimala Devaswom Administration also failed to take care of the practices and rituals at Sabarimala Temple by permitting Halal certified Jaggery for preparation of Nivedyam.” The image below compares the excerpt in the viral screenshot with the longer excerpt in the plea. The text highlighted in yellow in the plea is the same as in the viral screenshot.

The writ petition alleged that Sabrimala Temple is using Halal certified jaggery in their prasad. The petitioner alleges, “The actions on the part of the Temple administration are highly illegal and violative of religious rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India.”

The News Minute covered this incident in detail. TNM reported that Kumar was the former President of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Kerala.

The report added, “On November 18, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, told the court that the jaggery received by it had ‘halal’ mentioned on the packaging as they are also exported to Arab countries by the company supplying to them.”

It also said that the division bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and PG Ajithkumar advised Kumar to understand the concept of halal properly. The court said, “The concept of halal only says that certain things are prohibited; all other things are halal. This certification only says that those prohibited materials are not included in a particular product.”

TDB chief and senior CPI(M) leader K Ananthagopan dismissed the allegations. He told The Indian Express, “In 2018, a Maharashtra-based company supplied jaggery for Sabarimala. The firm was engaged in exporting jaggery and these export bags mentioned halal certification. As those bags were found to be of inferior quality, we hadn’t used that supply at the temple. The allegation is baseless and we will take legal action,’’ he said.

To sum it up, Indu Makkal Katchi shared a screenshot of a petitioner’s statement with the false claim that members of the Muslim community accepted that spitting is necessary for Halal in Islam.

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About the Author

Archit is a senior fact-checking journalist at Alt News. Previously, he has worked as a producer at WION and as a reporter at The Hindu. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at S3IDF.