Did you see the shocking images of animal cruelty in an "organic" abattoir whose meat ends up on the tables of top French chefs? The shocking scene, filmed secretly in March by animal welfare group L214, shows some animals being hung and bled or even cut up while still alive at the abattoir in the Basque country, in the South West. Lambs having limbs hacked off or even quartered while still conscious, not in some huge industrial abattoir, but a "human-sized" site that slaughters local produce – either organic or bearing the respected "red label", meaning the animals are not battery-reared.

Although French agriculture minister issued a statement announcing the nationwide inspections, what can be concluded is that animal cruelty is wide-spread, and it's not limited to minority religious slaughterhouses. I have heard rampant diatribes about how cruel Islamic slaughter is all the time. The fact is, animal cruelty is not a by-product of religious standards, rather, it is a human behaviour. The main benefit of Islamic or Kosher slaughter is that blood does not remain in the body of slaughtered animal, making it safer for human consumption. In both methods there are strict standards about avoiding animal cruelty, but people are people and they may be careless about whatever ethical or religious criteria are. Once in a while, some militant atheists wage a campaign to ban Islamic slaughter, to imply that animal cruelty is not separable from this religious practice. However, the incident in that abattoir shows that banning Islamic slaughter does not solve anything. Islamic or non-Islamic, the fate of the animal in the slaughter house rests entirely in the hands of the butcher. If they chose to give the animal a violent or inhumane death, their own lack of mercy (a value held in high esteem by Islam) is to blame. Preventing this, then, is not synonymous to preventing Islamic slaughter.