Islamic scholars lack knowledge of basic science showing that stunning animals prevents them from feeling pain when their throats are cut, a study has found.

The ignorance among scholars, who help to set rules governing what meat is deemed "halal" or permissible, is reflected among ordinary Muslims, the study by the University of Bristol found.

The British Muslim community is divided over pre-slaughter stunning, with some halal licensing bodies accepting it and others rejecting it.

However, the belief that stunning is forbidden under Islam appears to be gaining ground, with the number of animals killed while conscious and able to feel pain soaring in recent years.

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