“Halal snack pack” has been named People’s Choice Word of the Year 2016 by Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary. A snack pack, also known as an HSP, is a hearty pile of kebab meat, chips and sauce which has become a staple of Australian takeaway shops.
It’s perhaps an unlikely platform for political debate, but this year the dish rocketed into Australia’s national consciousness, becoming a symbol of peaceful multiculturalism for many, but for others, an unwelcome sign of the growing influence of Islam.
This year the dish, made to Islamic religious standards, found its way into politics, after right-wing anti-Islam politician Pauline Hanson refused an invitation to eat one.
In congratulating her on her election to the Senate in July, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari – a “non-practising Muslim” – told Ms Hanson: “I’ll take you out for halal snack pack out in Western Sydney, whenever you want.”
Mr. Dastyari was arguably slightly trolling Ms Hanson, whose One Nation party believes that by “buying halal certified products, it means that you are financially supporting the Islamisation of Australia”.
“It’s not happening, not interested in halal, thank you,” she replied, arguing (without evidence) that “98% of Australians” were also against halal.
The dish subsequently enjoyed a surge in popularity. One Melbourne kebab shop even added “The Pauline Hanson” to its menu – “Lamb kebab roasted to perfection in the rotisserie, mint yoghurt, chilli sauce, cheese, beer battered chips”.