Wednesday, January 02, 2008

No Lamb this Eid

I'm not sure whether this story ever got a lot of news. I had some trouble finding any updates on it, so I think not. The best article I could find is in the local newspaper. Here's the gist...

Eid al-Adha, a couple weeks ago, is a Muslim holiday honoring Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Part of the celebration is for each family to sacrifice an animal, like a lamb for example. Now, here's an interesting bit of trivia for those of you who might not live in North Carolina. In the great North state, there are more pigs than people. More pigs. Gross, huh? Hog farming is a major industry here. But we don't slaughter hogs for Eid, no way. But I guess some of these hog farmers raise lambs too.

In fact, there's a little farm in a neighboring county that would sell lambs to Muslims to slaughter for Eid al-Adha--for those Muslims who wanted to slaughter personally instead of just donating the money or whatever else they do. Anyway, for one reason or another, 250 lambs is a "mass slaughter" that apparently requires special sanitation. So some little Johnston County judge decides to impose a 10-day ban on the farm, so the Muslims couldn't come slaughter the lambs there on Eid.

Now, a group got together to ask the judge to lift the ban for this celebration, but he seemed to think that this (alleged) sanitation ban was more important than the constitution's guarantee of freedom to exercise religious rights. And so he denied their request, said that the Muslims could go somewhere else for the slaughter. Okay, there aren't exactly a whole lot of places to slaughter lambs--pigs are of course definitely out of the question. So saying that all these families can just go somewhere else is just the sort of arrogance we've come to expect from the justice department, isn't it?

If you read the article, you'll see some of the suggestions they gave--taking the animal home and slaughtering it there. Imagine, your neighbors see you slaughter a lamb in your yard, what they gonna think? And you want to talk about sanitation? Hunters around here will string up the deer they shoot, cut it up, and distribute the meat among their friends. But can Muslims do that? Oh nooooo.... somehow it's okay if it's good ol' country boys cutting up the deer they just shot in the woods, but the Muslims slaughtering a lamb for religious purposes? Oh no. The country might fall apart, right?

But alhamdulillah, another farm was found. And this you won't find in the paper so I'm reporting this to you as "hearsay." About an hour's drive in the other direction of aforementioned farm, many Muslims found another place for their slaughter. And so they drive on out there, completely different county of course, no ban... and guess what sort of a lucky surprise is waiting for them?

Local cops!

With cameras, getting images of cars, license plates, and no doubt the drivers of the cars. I'm not sure if they went to watch the event as well. But their presence was not necessary and could have been threatening, even.

So what's the deal? Why are Muslims being harassed and giving such a hard time about this sacrifice? These judges can't seriously want people to start slaughtering animals in their living rooms. The fact that the "law" is now stepping in on purely religious matters--it doesn't seem to have anything to do with sanitation now, does it? And seeing as how it was a 10-day ban, right over the Muslim holiday...

Now, if the fact that the entire business reeks of religious discrimination, I'm astonished at how this sort of thing is allowed, while "slaughterhouses" in this country can operate while abusing the animals, by beating them, sometimes animals are scalded in boiling water when the slaughter knife doesn't kill them. Is this entire country's meat business so screwed up?


Maya said...

It's my understanding that you need a license to kill an animal if you are going to sell/distribute it to others. Hunters have a license to kill a certain amount of deer, and they are limited to certain hunting areas. Slaughterhouses have a license to slaughter and distribute approved meat.

Besides, the word "sacrifice," is often thought of as satanic, or wrong for our society (and even a certain amount of religious "freedoms," have to fall within legal guidelines). I don't think this had anything to do with Muslims at all, merely the legality of the slaughter and the societal perception of action. I'm surprised that the problem is just starting now, unless this is a new Muslim community.

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