For animal lovers Eid al-Adha is the saddest day of the year. To thank Allah for sparing Ibrahim’s child from death, Muslim families sacrifice sheep, goats, cows, buffaloes and camels in public in staggering numbers. In 2017, news outlets photographed rivers of blood in Bangladesh and a photo of a little girl dressed in her best clothes, standing in a street of blood. Is reporting this anti-muslim?
The holiday is on July 20 this year.
Ritual slaughter, both halal and kosher, in which animals are not stunned and spared the pain of suffering, has been hotly debated in Europe, sometimes pitting animal advocates against religious figures.
Former sex symbol and actress Brigitte Bardot who has railed against Eid al-Adha and halal slaughter for decades in France has especially been vilified as anti-religious and anti-Muslim for speaking out. In 1996, she said, “1,000 sheep were slaughtered last month … only 300 yards from my house,” as an example of how extreme the public slaughter had become. She was quickly termed “xenophobic” and “extreme right” by the Greens.
When Bardot and the president of Tunisia’s Society for the Protection of Animals approached French Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre in the 1990’s about the outdoor, ritual slaughter he reportedly said he could not apply French humane slaughter laws to the event because he was intimidated by the nation’s four million Muslims, which had grown to five million by 2008.
Bardot’s international work through the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals seeks to protect horses, seals, dolphins, dogs, bears, tigers, rhinos, fighting bulls and food and lab animals. Her work is largely ignored by other animal welfare groups because she is believed to be anti-immigration, conservative and otherwise not “woke.”
In 2008, Bardot was convicted of inciting racial/religious hatred for a letter she wrote to then Interior Minister of France Nicolas Sarkozy objecting to the ritual slaughter of sheep in France by slitting their throats with no anesthesia. The cruelty-tolerating culture was “imposing its habits” upon France she wrote. Her trial ended with a conviction and fine of €15,000 though Bardot has been fined for religious hatred before and after her Sarkozy letter.
In 2019, she was charged with racial hatred, this time for objecting to cruel animal treatment on the French island of Réunion in a letter she wrote to the island’s prefect, Amaury de Saint-Quentin.
Cruelty to People Is Censored as “Anti-Muslim”
Censoring of news that could cast Islam in a bad light is hardly limited to Brigitte Bardot or animals news. Many across the world find beheadings, of animals or people, repugnant yet beheadings have a long and established history of use in punishment and treatment of enemies within Islam. When beheadings have occurred in recent years, the mainstream media cover the violence lightly, if at all, to prevent “anti-Muslim” sentiment, especially when the suspects are terrorists or have Muslim backgrounds.
For example, when 86-year-old French Catholic priest Jacques Hamel was beheaded in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in 2016 by perpetrators pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS), news outlets wrote that he was “killed” not “beheaded” and ended coverage of the murder swiftly. News outlets continue to downplay the increasingly routine ISIS beheadings of enemies and even local people that appear in chilling videos to similarly avoid creating “anti-Muslim” sentiment.
The beheading of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris, in 2020 by an Islamist terrorist was given even less coverage than Jacques Hamel the Catholic priest. Why was he killed? Paty had shown his class offensive depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, while permitting students to leave the room ahead of time if they wished. The killer, who paid students to help him find the teacher, tweeted an image of Paty’s head which he had removed with a long knife on social media – yes, like the head of an animal.
Barbaric executions like stonings and hangings in the Islamic county of Iran are also rarely covered by mainstream news media to avoid inflating anti-Muslim sentiment. Even the deaths and violent treatment of women and LGBTs are not covered, though they are demographics that mainstream media are pledged to defend and put first.
The unreported – and unreportable violence – is not just beheadings, stonings and hangings.
When members of the far-right group, Britain First, posted an authentic video in 2017 of an Egyptian mob throwing a man off a roof, they were charged with “religious harassment.” The roof execution video, which was tweeted by then U.S. President Trump, was also defended by U.S. media. The Washington Post dismissed the footage as “old” and the New York Times dismissed the video as emanating from a “complex political situation.”
The take home message is clear: it is worse to report on violence than commit it, when you are part of a politically protected minority.