Up to 13,000 sheep are ‘illegally’ sacrificed
10 January 2006
BRUSSELS – As many as 13,000 sheep were sacrificed in Belgian homes on Tuesday as part of the Islamic festival Eid al-Kebir.
In theory, slaughtering animals in private is illegal and the authorities have set up a number of authorised abattoirs to encourage Muslims to use a legal alternative.
Brussels’ secretary of state for cleanliness, Emir Kir, said the creation of legal sites for Eid al-Kebir had proved a successful idea.
Although the federal and regional authorities have suggested that Muslims find alternative ways to celebrate the festival, such as giving presents, it is clear that many want to practice the Islamic custom. 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.
Kir said 4,000 sheep had been sacrificed at official sites, which was better for public health and ensured Muslims protection from prosecution. “This is a huge success for the project which is exceptional and unique in Europe,” he said. “We’ve had Dutch and French delegations visiting to find out more.”
However, since the vast majority of the ceremonies continue to take place in private, local authorities (communes) have been faced with a dilemma: do they make provision for disposing of thousands of carcasses, from a ceremony which is banned in homes?
Kir admitted he had granted permission to Schaerbeek and Saint-Gilles to obtain special containers in time for the festival.
The animal rights group Gaia, though, said it would lodge official complaints every time a public bin was used for carcasses, insisting the slaughters are illegal.
The management of Eid al’Kebir in Belgium has proved controversial, both in Brussels and in other parts of the country.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news