Belgian Muslims asked to rethink sheep sacrifices

9th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 January 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgium's Muslim community are being asked to rethink their custom of sacrificing sheep for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Kebir.

9 January 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgium's Muslim community are being asked to rethink their custom of sacrificing sheep for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Kebir.

The Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that a set of guidelines produced by the federal and regional authorities recommended alternative ways to mark Eid al-Kebir on Tuesday, such as giving presents.

Under the Islamic tradition, the head of the household selects a sheep and has it killed in homage to a reference in the Koran of Abraham sacrificing a sheep in place of his only son as a sign devotion to Allah.

However, Belgium's authorities point out that the rite is not a part of the five pillars of Islam; it is a tradition rather than a religious obligation.

Belgium's Muslim Executive is not impressed with the suggestion and stated that a system of temporary markets selling sheep in Brussels was proving successful.

The market at Chaussee de Vilvorde was expected to have sold 3,000 sheep by the end of Monday evening. The Muslim Executive's vice president Kissi Benjelloul estimated that in total in the Brussels Region 4,000 sheep would be slaughtered at abattoirs on Tuesday.

It is expected, though, that many more will be sacrificed in private homes, with the total number of slaughters estimated at between 15,000 and 17,000 sheep.

Brussels' secretary of state for public cleanliness, Emir Kir, sparked further controversy by saying that, in the future, he wanted to see the ritual sacrifices spread out over more than one day. He argued that the move would allow the doubling or tripling of slaughters in professional abattoirs.

Benjelloul dismissed the idea, pointing out that the abattoirs were far from booked up for the rites on Tuesday.

Eid al-Kebir was also a contentious subject in Limbourg province where public prosecutors sent police officers a circular recommending them to ask for a transaction fee of EUR 500 for cases of sheep sacrifices in homes.

This angered the mayor of Saint-Trond, Ludwig Vandenhove, who said ritual sacrifices in private homes were purely and simply banned. He said the "transactional" fine of EUR 500 set a dangerous precedent since it suggested people could carry out illegal acts if they paid a fine in advance.

The animal cruelty prevention group GAIA also complained about the circular.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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