The animal must feel loved

The man who suddenly starts talking to me is angry. ‘This is not how it’s supposed to be done’, he says, ‘this is not how it’s supposed to be done’.

We are standing in a so called ‘Kurban Kesim Yeri’, an open air space designated by Istanbul municipality to butcher animals for the Feast of Sacrifice. Mainly cows are slaughtered, but quite a few sheep too. It’s like a production line: on the right is where the butchering takes place, one by one ten cows and several sheep being killed by a couple of butchers. These ten are axed into big pieces, and then the butchers carry them to long tables on the left, where more butchers are standing. There the meat is cut into smaller pieces. The animals have all been bought live by people, and the animals have a number. When it’s your cow’s turn, you keep an eye on it, stand by as it is cut into smaller pieces and you keep big plastic bags ready to put the meat in.

It’s a bloody scene and the smell is horrible. I can take it, simply because I’m a very curious woman, interested in everything. But the man standing next to me is disgusted, totally disgusted. He has seen the Feast of Sacrifice butchering since he was a small child, but never like this. He explains that if you follow the Islamic rules, the cow should be blindfolded, it needs to be comforted and stroked – ‘The animal must feel loved’ – and before the throat is slit, a prayer must be said. And he is right, I remember it happened just like that last year, when I was in a village during these days and watched the sacrificing. ‘You are not allowed to scare the animal’, the angry, disillusioned man tells me. ‘But these animals are waiting in line, see the other cows get killed, walk on the remains of their kind, smell the blood. They don’t think like us humans, of course, but I’m sure they are very scared.’

At that moment – and I’m not making this up – people around us start running: one of the cows that was about to be thrown over on the floor to be killed broke loose and ran towards us. I run, the guy I was talking to runs, we and some other people almost fall and are almost knocked over by the cow. A scary moment, and it instantly makes clear what the man was saying: there is nothing much religious and sacred about the slaughtering going on here. He says: ‘We wanted to have a cow killed here, but we cancelled our plans on seeing this. We are Muslims, how could we ever eat meat that is prepared like this on a religious day?’ Then he walks off.

I’m off too. My legs are trembling. On the way home, I pass by a bakery shop. I buy a big fat piece of pie. You could call it comfort food.

5 replies
  1. brigitte
    brigitte says:

    Thanks for your article. As I live in Istanbul aselle, can you telle me where was this place ? Next year, I will try to see that …
    Thanks !

  2. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Thank you for sharing this story, Fréderike. I had a similar experience in India which turned me off meat for life. It’s a pity that in the western world those things happen mostly behind doors (
    I don’t think this is the attitude in which Abraham would have sacrificed his son, and surely not a way to show our love for animals.
    Mahatma Gandhi said: ?The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated?.

  3. Anatolian
    Anatolian says:

    Thank you for bringing this article to our attention,

    I believe that we can have a perfectly healty life without killing of animals for food. it is not necessary to eat meat, to eat meat do more harms to human body than good such as risk of hypertension, obesity, coronary artery disease and diabetes etc.

    20 million people die annually due to hunger and its effects. Although this is a result of many complex interrelated geographic, social and economic factors, the remedy to this tragedy is ideally quite simple.

    Compare the following facts about food production:
    It takes 23 gallons of water to produce a pound of tomatoes.
    It takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.

    One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes.
    One acre of land can produce 165 pounds of beef.

    It takes 1 pound of grain to make 1 pound of bread.
    It takes 20 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef

    for more details click below links.


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