18 November 2010

Animals Australia investigates sheep abuse during 'Festival of Sacrifice'

Animals Australia is currently in the Middle East for the three day celebration of the Islamic holiday, Eid Al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) to investigate the ritual of slaughtering animals such as sheep, goats, or cows.

Shocking new photographs and firsthand witness accounts of sheep being thrown, chained and brutally abused have surfaced. Recent footage from Kuwait showing three Australian sheep being forced into the trunk of a car has prompted the organization to ask Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, to ban the live export trade of sheep for slaughter to the Middle East.

Lyn White, an investigator with Animals Australia states, "It is unconscionable and immoral that Australia's live export industry provides animals for this Festival knowing full well the mammoth scale of cruelty that occurs each year. Animals Australia has previously proposed that at the very least this industry enter into agreements with importers to stop the on selling of sheep to private buyers, but even this small step to protect the welfare of sheep was refused."

Not only is the evidence of abuse and mass slaughter surprising, but completely against their religious commandments as well. In the Muslim holiday, by sacrificing a sheep on their own, followers can reflect on Abraham's trials as stated in the Qur'an. The animal is supposed to be handled with great care, gratitude, and love in recognition of being granted a feast.

A recent article from the Jerusalem Post features statements from vegetarian, and flexitarian Muslims who are celebrating the holiday, such as Sheikh Hamza Yusuf who says, "Traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians. Umar [the second Muslim Caliph] said: 'Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine'."

Traditional believers of the Muslim faith practice that by taking a life of any creature you must be thankful, for every life is a gift. The brutalization of the sheep before slaughter contradicts the entire point of the sacrifice.

"For things to change for the better, someone has to have the courage to say, 'This is wrong; animals shouldn't be treated this way.' Supplying animals to be brutalized only makes Australia as complicit as those who physically abuse the animals during this festival," said White.

Julia is a student who has a passion for veganism, animal welfare, and religious studies.

Photo credit: AnimalsAustralia.org