18 February 2000
France faces crackdown on Muslim festival

THE European Commission is pressing France to take action against the “illegal and unacceptable” open-air slaughter of animals during the Muslim festival of Eid-el-Kebir.

David Byrne, commissioner for welfare and food safety, said the slaughter of up to 8000 sheep in the open air breaches legislation requiring the use of slaughterhouses.

He also expressed concern about the treatment of animals prior to their death.

The Commission will be following events closely and will act if the situation does not improve.

During the festival, up to 50,000 sheep are killed in France. Most are killed in slaughterhouses.

Meanwhile, animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming – which took to the streets of London yesterday to protest against exports of British sheep to the festival – has warned that it plans further demonstrations.

Some 150 protesters gathered at the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Farmers Union, calling for a ban on live exports.

A delegation met with junior farming minister Elliot Morley and NFU deputy president Tim Bennett.

CIWF spokesman Philip Lymbery said more protests were planned in the run-up to Eid-el-Kebir which takes place between March 16-18.