The war waged by a group of animal associations against ritual slaughter is not new. The OABA, one of those, has now chosen the day of the Muslim celebration « Eid al-adha » and the sacrifice attached to this Muslim feast as an opportunity to criticise its practice, taking advantage of the already tense media climate against the Muslim presence in the West.
Eid al-adha, a Distant Fad
Lamb sacrifices that developed out of the industrial meat circuit, on farms or elsewhere, have been at the centre of their attention for decades. More than thirty years ago the OABA built a legal case against the town hall of Aulnay-sous-bois – a Parisian suburb- and more specifically against a decree which allowed the Muslim community to use a plot of the city land for their Eid al-adha sacrifice. Three years later, in July 1990, the administrative court of Paris overturned the order for legal reasons.
Since then, the OABA has adopted more subtle methods of political lobbying, especially when approaching the Eid al-adha celebration, in order to pit the general public against ritual slaughter.
The association has gained visibility since France’s « Grenelle Animal Forum » in 2008, and the media campaign against ritual slaughter re-trodden by the professional advertising regulator (ARPP) in 2010 (see below).
Below are the posters rejected by the ARPP, which doesn’t only stigmatise Halal ritual slaughter.
From Banning Organic Ritual Slaughter – Towards the Banning of all Types of Ritual Slaughter ?
Today OABA welcomes what it considers to be a ‘brilliant victory’ against the Ministry of Agriculture, INAO and the label Ecocert, the prohibition of associating the word ‘organic’ with any meat from ritual slaughter, kosher or halal.
This ban seems however to be only the first step towards a more global restriction of ritual slaughter, at the French and the European level. Recently, on September 6th, the association threatened to sue the State, which it accuses of having deliberately amended the reference to stunning techniques in the regulations governing the use of the label « Label Rouge » for beef, in an opinion published on 13 July 2019 in the Official Journal.
The organisation denounces a sleight of hand by the Ministry of Agriculture, only two days after the banning of the certification ‘Organic’ on non-stunned slaughtered animals: ‘Since it is no longer possible to use an organic label for the certification for steaks from non-stunning slaughter,’ the statement said, ‘the Ministry of Agriculture and the INAO [National Institute of Origin and Quality] respond to commercial solicitations by offering the « Label Rouge » certification to religious priests and authorities. The organic halal and kosher is dead, long life to the « label Rouge » free range halal and kosher.’
The statement added that ‘OABA has just issued a reasoned opposition to this request to change the conditions for awarding the « Label Rouge » label to ‘big beef cattle,’ which it hopes will be taken into account. If not, a new legal battle is to be expected.’
On September 18th OABA’s request to fully ban ritual slaughter was considered by the Council of State. The association justifies this request by the refusal of the Minister of Agriculture to follow its recommendation ‘to use a stun before slitting the animal’s throat if the technique is available or, if not, to give relief to the animal just afterwards.”
Dynamised by its victory of officially forbidding the organic certification to halal and kosher meat, the animal association will not stop here, especially since its fight is primarily ideological.
As already mentioned in an article in May 2008, OABA belongs to a very long mystical-philosophical tradition (seen in Pythagoras or Ovid) according to which the animal is a sentient being like any other.
Muslims and Jews are not deaf about the issue of animal welfare, quite the contrary. However, it is difficult to fully agree with each other.
It remains to be seen whether the ritual slaughterers and those opposed to the practice decide to dialogue and get along, far from the carnivorous interests of the agri-food industry, or whether each party chooses to stick to an irreducible position.
In that case, it is once again the animals that will pay a heavy price and the industry players who will continue to hit the jackpot to the detriment of all.