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Eid Slaughter Sacrifice Is Sad Day for Animals

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The lamb having its throat slit didn't want to die.

"The animal tried to stand up but couldn't as the ground was slippery," said Christine Hafner of the International Fund For Animals on the Today's Zaman website.

Hafner was monitoring the 2008 Eid animal sacrifices in Turkey, a four day Muslim holiday in which believers slaughter animals as a reminder of the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

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Turkey has had a hard time with animal sacrifice. Western tourists have been horrified by the plaintive bellowing of goats and lambs being slaughtered in their hotel courtyards as they step out to sightsee, cameras swinging around their necks.

The Turkish government was forced to ban slaughter in playgrounds and parks in 2007 though "environmental pollution after parts of animals were left in the streets," is still an Eid problem says Today's Zaman.

Two years ago, Turkish Environmental and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroglu vowed to make the holiday "more environmentally friendly."

Many Westerners do not want to see or hear an animal slaughtered much less do it themselves.

And even those who observe Eid can have second thoughts.

"It is not so much the death as the manner of dying," writes Gamal Nkrumah on the Al-Ahram website. "It's not as if they were running down a cow or a sheep. Its throat is slit; the look of absolute terror in the eye of the beast is hard to miss. One can tell from the nervous restlessness that the defenseless animals sense danger. The darting eyes and incessant bleating are tell-tale signs."

It is not sight for the squeamish says Nkrumah.

"The scent of blood is invariably overwhelming on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. One can literally sniff the blood in the air. It is pungent with a hint of salt and bitterness. Some streets are awash with blood."

Nor are children spared the blood and gore.

Boys "are traditionally required to observe the ritual slaughter" says Nkrumah. "It is a familiar scene, year in, year out -- children darting forward and back excitedly, jumping up and down. Their blood is up, their adrenaline soaring."

For years French actress Brigitte Bardot has campaigned against Eid sacrifice methods in which French laws for animals to be stunned or electrically anesthetized before being killed and having their blood drained are largely ignored.

"1,000 sheep were slaughtered last month…only 300 yards from my house" she told the Washington Post with moral outrage a few years ago.

But not all believers sacrifice animals anymore.

"I have been a proud, meat-eating Muslim all my life but the details of the slaughter spelt out in the English language make my stomach churn," wrote writer and filmmaker Parvez Sharma on the Huffington Post website in an article subtitled No Eid For Me.

"First a knee-deep hole is dug. The animal to be killed for qurban (sacrifice) is blindfolded with a piece of cloth," read an email Sharma received about proper Eid slaughtering techniques. "It is made to lie on its left side with its face and throat towards the qibla. Its throat is brought near the hole. The ankles of its front legs are fastened together with one of its hind legs. The takbir of 'Iyd is said three times. Next the following words are said: 'Bismillahi Allahu akbar.' Then, if the animal is not a camel, its throat is cut at any place. While saying 'Bismillahi,' the 'h' must be articulated with due stress and aspiration."

"What about the 'h' in "hate?" Sharma says he asked himself upon reading the message again.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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