All over the world, animals are sacrificed for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha which starts on Saturday. In many countries, people buy animals at markets. They then have the animals slaughtered, either at home or at a butcher.
These markets are extremely stressful for animals, and in some countries, people still use the painful method of controlling their animals by placing a rope through their nose.
Hundreds of people gathered at a cattle market in Dhaka to buy animals to sacrifice ahead of Eid al-Adha. Traders travelled with their animals via boats and trucks to reach the market in the capital of Bangladesh.
Cows were tied to the side of boats as they arrived. To get them off the boat, people pulled the ropes and pushed them or hit them with a stick. They were then taken on trucks to the animal market.
Some farmers in Bangladesh put a rope through the noses of cows, and some don’t use this painful method of controlling an animal. A big black bull looked very scared as two men pulled the rope through his nose while walking through a cheering crowd.
“I’ve come with three of my own cows and have come to sell them in this market for Eid. The whole year I’ve taken care of them and hope to make some profit,” Amin Sheikh said.
Officials checked cows for foot and mouth disease (FMD), a contagious viral disease, in Indonesia. “One of the reasons why sales of sacrificial cows have declined is because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease,” animal seller Jamal Lulay said.
The animals had a rope through their nose; the farmer held the rope as officials looked into the mouth of the cows.
“People are still very worried about the safeness of consuming meat that was potentially affected by foot and mouth disease. And the second reason is that the price of cows has increased in the last four to five months,” he added.
In May, Indonesia launched a nationwide livestock vaccination programme to try to stop the outbreak. According to Agriculture Ministry data, more than 317,000 animals have been infected in 21 Indonesian provinces, and more than 3,400 animals were killed.
Instead of buying an animal at a market, people in Dubai can order a lamb, sheep, goat or camel with an app on their phone. At a slaughterhouse in Dubai, sheep are gathered together.
When an animal or part of an animal is ordered, the animal goes through a machine to be killed, his skinned body hung from a hook and then his meat is cut into pieces and delivered to people’s homes.
“Most of the time, you get your own animal – on your own – and you do the slaughtering. Or you go through traders, you buy from them, and they provide you the service, but you have to wait in long queues, you wait for a long time, it will be a bit of a hassle, you are going to waste half of your day waiting for your sacrifice to be provided,” said Fatma al-Harmoud, manager of the al-Qouz slaughterhouse.
Animals were waiting in the hot sun to be sold and killed for Eid al-Adha in Afghanistan. Animal traders at a market in Kabul complained about slow business ahead of Eid al-Adha. People can’t afford to buy animals.
“In the past, people used to buy sheep and cattle, but now they can’t afford them since poverty has increased. There are so many sheep and cattle here, but there are few buyers,” customer Maidin said.
“Every year, I farm around 30 to 35 calves. I keep them all for three to four months, then I bring them to Kabul for sale. These are all my cows, I brought all these last night, and so far, I have not sold any yet,” trader Lalai said.
Animal traders were also complaining about the rise in costs to keep animals. “We feed all these (animals) with bread and bran. In the past, we used to buy a sack of bread for 130 afghanis ($1.50), but now we buy each sack for 220 afghanis ($2.50),” trader Wali Jan said.
Customers at a market in Pakistan said they were struggling to buy animals for the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival because prices have skyrocketed.
“Last year, I made a deal in just one hour. Today, I have been wandering here since the morning and haven’t bought an animal because in the price range I had last year, the traders are only offering small cattle,” said a customer, Abdul Qayyum, at the animals market in Karachi.
Animal trader Umar Farooq said transportation costs made the price of a cow, goat or camel even more expensive.
In many countries, people complained about the prices of animals. Since the Ukraine-Russia war, animal farmers said feeding their animals has become more expensive. The war has increased worldwide prices for grains, fuel and fertilizer. Inflation has also spiked food prices, people said.
Last month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the world faced an “unprecedented hunger crisis”, saying the war had intensified long-brewing problems, including the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The barley, feed, and maintenance (of animals), this is what made the prices rise,” seller Mahami Chikh said at an animal market in Algiers in Algeria.
“This year, we did not sell at all. I swear today we did not even sell any (animals) until now,” sheep trader Suleiman Abu Saadeh said at an animal market in Rafah in Gaza.
“The difference this year is that the increase in prices is almost double. It was 60 (Egyptian pounds per kilogram) ($3.18), now it is at 90 (Egyptian pounds per kilogram) ($4.77), and it could increase more,” a sheep owner at an animal market in Giza in Egypt said, adding that he could not find buyers for his animals.
“I came to check the prices and whether we will be able to buy (a sacrifice) or not. But the prices are unbelievably high compared to last year. I am leaving. I can’t afford it,” customer Hamoud Al-Asri, who was looking for an animal to sacrifice, said at a market in Sanaa in Yemen.
“I don’t have the means. Today I don’t have the means to buy a sheep for 500,000 (Iraqi dinars) ($342.6). I work for myself. I don’t have a salary,” customer Hussein said at an animal market in Baghdad in Iraq. He added that he asked a seller why the animals were so expensive, and “he responded that the feed is expensive”.
“Sacrificing (animals) has become for the people who can afford it. A sheep’s (price) is up to 800,000 (Syrian pounds) ($318), 1,000,000 (Syrian pounds) ($398) or more. So, for sure, average citizens won’t be able to sacrifice unless they are rich,” animal trader Anwar Shihadeh said in Damascus in Syria.
A vendor in Tunis in Tunisia said that people have a hard time buying fruits and vegetables. “A Tunisian who has four people in the family tells me to weigh four peaches and four fruits. This is funny in terms of selling,” fruits seller Maher Saada said.
“God only knows if I will be celebrating Eid or not. As I am seeing the high prices, it is indescribable, unacceptable,” Tunisian citizen Belgacem Fergani said.
While walking through a supermarket in Misrata in Libya, Mohammed Ammar complained about the high prices: “When you compare prices of food products from five or six years ago, they have increased nearly ten times.”
Sacrificing animals in any religion has long angered animal welfare organizations. “Animal sacrifice irrespective of religion is a retrograde practice that needs to be admonished and deprecated by a civilised society,” Meet Ashar, manager at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, wrote in a social media post.
“Say NO to sacrifice of animals on Bakra Eid and ALL other rituals, practices or customs (irrespective of the religion) that require sacrificing/killing or hurting animals. If you want to sacrifice something, sacrifice what is yours. Animals are not ours. Simply because you can buy them doesn’t mean they become yours,” he said. “They are sentient beings who feel pain and have families just like us.”
He added that animal sacrifice “normalizes killing and desensitizes children to violence against animals.”
Some vegan Muslims believe that it’s not necessary to sacrifice an animal. “What can we sacrifice instead of an animal? Well, the idea of the sacrifice is clearly to give up something that is of great value to us. 14 centuries ago in Arabia livestock would certainly fall into that category. Today, there are other things,” Nina Ahmedow wrote in an article about a vegan Eid al-Adha.
“Maybe you want to donate an amount of money. Maybe it’s your time. Maybe you’ll cook a fabulous vegan meal and distribute it to the poor, your neighbors, and your family,” she added.