When I’m in France I like to read the weekend edition of ‘Le Figaro,’ a fairly centrist daily newspaper which has interesting supplements and articles. It enables me to improve my understanding of French language and culture as well as keeping me au courant with current events and political trends in France and elsewhere.
In the main part of the paper of 9 August my attention was drawn to a full-page advertisement placed by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and headed by the clarion call (in French): ’11th August 2019 – “Aid el-Kebir,” Day of Sorrow and Blood.’
What followed was a long and detailed diatribe against the fact that thousands of sheep were going to have their throats cut under appalling conditions. The ad continued by assuring readers that this year, once again, the Foundation run by BB, as she was once known, would be on the spot to prevent this happening. How they proposed to do this was not made clear, but it was obviously a cause which the Foundation was seeking to combat with all its might.
But as I read on, I realized that the object of BB’s wrath was not solely the ritual sacrifice of sheep to mark a Moslem festival but also the daily slaughter of cattle and sheep in what was defined as their ‘terrible suffering in abattoirs throughout France.’ The advertisement was at pains to point out that fifteen European countries had banned the slaughter of animals which had not been stunned beforehand. BB and her foundation demanded that the concessions accorded to ‘cults’ be rescinded.
This puts me in a difficult position. I know that the ritual laws ordaining that meat which is permissible to Moslems, known as ‘Halal,’ require that animals be slaughtered in a certain way, and that this practice is widespread throughout France. I also know that the Halal ritual slaughter requirements are very much akin to the ritual slaughter which makes meat ‘Kasher,’ or permissible to be eaten by observant Jews (of which I am not one). Does BB mean that Judaism, too, is a cult?
So what it boils down to is that BB’s foundation is waging war against any practice involving the slaughter of animals for food that does not involve preliminary stunning by electrical means. Obviously, the laws determining what would define permissible slaughter for food in the Jewish and Moslem religions were devised long before electricity was discovered. Thousands of years ago, those slaughtering practices were considered to be as humane as possible.
But times have changed, and it is commendable that the slaughter of animals for food is now undertaken in a more humane way.
. To me, as a non-religious Jew, it seems perfectly reasonable to expect the various religions to move with the times and accept the innovations that modern technology can provide if this makes the whole process less cruel. Let’s face it, slaughtering animals for food can never be the most humane act, but it doesn’t look as if the whole world is going to become vegetarian any time soon, so it’s a situation we are going to have to live with for the foreseeable future.
The ad concludes by calling on the French government to cease tolerating an intolerable situation. What are the chances that anything will be done? Very few, I’d say, considering the large and vociferous Muslim population in France, and in Europe in general.
(Sorry, no pics of BB then and now. Both too terrifying.)