A growing number of the Russian capital's non-Muslim population seek poultry and other meat products from Muslims’ stores.
By Damir Ahmed, IOL Correspondent
MOSCOW, October 26, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) - With the deadly bird flu virus closing in on Moscow, non-Muslim Russians have shown great interest in consuming Halal food products, with figures reflecting a hike in Halal food sales.
A growing number of the Russian capital's non-Muslim population seek poultry and other meat products from Muslims’ supermarkets that are mostly located close to the city’s four biggest mosques, according to IslamOnline.net Correspondent.
A Halal meat outlet near the southern district’s big mosque was over crowded during the usual noon break hour, with both Muslims and non-Muslims buying meat and poultry products.
“It is safer to buy from Muslims’ shops,” Victor, a non-Muslim Russian told IslamOnline.net.
“Products here are fresh and infection-free,” he added.
“I read in the newspapers that bird flu was drawing near us here,” said Elina, 34, an inhabitant of the city Tuesday October 25, adding, “our experience in dealing with Muslims made us sure they would not cheat…it is part of their religious beliefs not to cheat.”
Russians say they have been frequenting Halal meat stores, especially after news reports said H5N1 strain -- deadly to humans -- was detected in an area less than 250 Kms away from Moscow.
A number of high-class citizens have also been seen parking their luxurious cars outside Halal meat stores and purchasing their meat and poultry needs, according to IOL correspondent.
“Since mid October, we've noticed a tangible increase in our sales,” Mohamed, a Tajik, who works as a cashier in one of the Halal stores, said.
“Non-Muslim Russians are common customers of our shop all year long, but there has been a surge in sales lately,” he added.
“At least 40% hike in our sales took place during the current month of October,” said a Halal store manager, who preferred not to be identified.
According to Halal stores' statistics, sales used to range between $45 to $70 million a year, a sum that is expected to hike to $ 100 million in 2005.
Halal products are also available in other supermarkets across Russia, with some products imported from other countries including European states, such as the Netherlands.
In Moscow, there is only one Halal meat factory, while such factories are more common in other Russian republics, with a majority of Muslims, including Tatarstan.
Russia has a Muslim population of 20 million people -- out of a total population of 143.8 million -- concentrated in the north of the Caucasus and in the central parts of the country.
In the Russian capital, Muslims make three million.