sheep slaughter, between tradition and evolution
Main feast of the Muslim calendar, the celebration of Eid-El-Adha (Eid El-Kabir) takes place from Tuesday 20 to Thursday 22 July 2021. It commemorates each year the submission to God of Ibrahim, through sacrifice of a lamb. With more than 100,000 sheep on average slaughtered over three days in France, each year the event represents a real logistical challenge for Muslim communities, livestock and slaughter professionals and local authorities. Between tradition and evolution, the slaughter ritual concentrates, for a few days, all the attentions.
Faced with the influx of sheep slaughtering, the Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with the French Muslim Worship Council (CFCM), is trying to plan operations as best as possible based on expected order volumes. Since a decree of 1is October 1997, any slaughter of animals outside slaughterhouses is prohibited and constitutes an offense. The sacrificial act must be carried out by authorized priests, in permanent or temporary slaughterhouses approved by the State, in compliance with regulations relating to food safety, animal protection, and health.
Decrease in approved temporary slaughterhouses
If there are fixed slaughterhouses everywhere in France, mobilized on the day of Eid, their number remains insufficient to meet the demand of the Muslim community for the occasion. In recent years, the Ministry of Agriculture has set up temporary slaughterhouses approved for animal sacrifice. These mobile slaughterhouses, “Large truck trailers”, are fully equipped for the occasionand “Must comply with European directives», tells Abdelali Mamoun, imam and mufti of Alfortville. «Approved priests are also hired, as well as professionals, who slaughter several hundred sheep in one morning ”, he continues.
This year, the Ministry of Agriculture established only 23 approved temporary slaughterhouses, against 38 in 2020, 46 in 2018 or 62 in 2013. This constant drop in the number of slaughterhouses can have several explanations. First, the impossibility for Muslim households to buy a sheep, the cost of which, depending on the region, goes up to € 250 or € 300. “For many families, this is too high a price. I would say that about 50% of the faithful in my community have preferred to give up the purchase of a sheep in recent years, to pay instead a sum of money to the most needy ”,thus testifies Kader Bouazza, president of the regional council of the Moslem worship (CRCM) of Poitou-Charentes.
Another reason put forward is the current health context, which is particularly unfavorable for big reunions. ” With the Covid, most religious ceremonies took place in the open air. Mosques were determined to avoid a cluster, so people came with their own rugs, kept their distance, or even stayed at home, for safety. “ Many faithful have thus planned to pay a sum of money to the most needy rather than going to a slaughterhouse on the day of Eid.
Slaughter by “delegation”
The low number of temporary slaughterhouses approved on French territory nonetheless remains a problem for part of the Muslim community. She ended up preferring to traditional slaughter practices slaughter “by delegation”, a form of sacrifice which allows the faithful to delegate to a priest outside the home the slaughter of the animal. On its site, the CFCM thus recalled, a few days ago, that the sacrificial act can occur on the three days of Eid-El-Adha, and that sacrifice by “delegation” is unanimously authorized within the Muslim community.
Many households have turned to humanitarian NGOs recognized for this service, such as Dignité internationale or Muslim Hands: “These associations carry out slaughter abroad, in countries like Chad or Sudan, for the family who paid for a sheep. The meat of the animal is then used to feed a poor family on the spot ”, explains Abdelali Mamoun. The French faithful can, for their part, buy hallal mutton in an adapted butcher’s shop.