L214 struck again. The association for the defense of animals today pinpoints a sheepfold in the North for having illegally sold sheep to individuals during Eid el-Kébir. They were loaded into car trunks.
One by one, dozens of sheep with tied front legs are transported in wheelbarrows. They struggle as they are clumsily loaded into the trunks of privately owned cars. Such is the incessant ballet filmed on Friday, July 8 by the association for the protection of animals L214 at the sheepfold of the Sheep Society Flanders Artois (SOFA), in Deûlémont (North).
On the eve of Eid el-Kébir, a festival celebrated each year by Muslims who perform ritual slaughter, the association counted 33 sheep sold during the day to be slaughtered. A figure very probably below reality because the camera placed by L214 only filmed part of the site. The sheep had also been available for sale for several days. “It’s a bit like a supermarket. Who wants a sheep picks up a sheep, illustrates Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of the association which, this Thursday, August 4, made public the images of these sales deemed illegal:
Because individuals, if they can come and reserve a sheep from a farm, are not allowed to leave with it. As every year, a prefectural decree has in fact been published in order to prohibit, from July 4 to 14, the transport of sheep and goats by private individuals, under penalty of a fine of 7,500 euros and six months jail. According to the law, it is then the breeding which must be responsible for labeling and transporting the animals to a slaughterhouse approved by the State, so that the buyers can come and collect the carcass there.
In addition, outside the Eid period, any slaughter carried out in an unapproved establishment is considered an offense punishable by six months in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros, as recalled by the North prefecture. “By supplying sheep to individuals, the SOFA is in a situation of complicity in the crime of clandestine slaughter”thus denounces L214, which, for this reason, filed a complaint yesterday against the SOFA, as well as for “mistreatment”: “Car trunks are no place to transport sheep. It’s not ventilated, it’s hot and we don’t know how long they stay there”, protests Sébastien Arsac, also spokesperson for the association for the defense of animals.
Car trunks are not places to transport sheep. It’s not ventilated, it’s hot and we don’t know how long they stay there.
Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of L214
For its part, the company SOFA ensures that “never [avoir] been warned” of the prefectural decree and denies the existence of sales on July 8: “No, it’s not possible, we stopped sales on July 3″, says its leader, Christophe Ryckewaert. Finally, he explains that individuals brought the sheep themselves to the two slaughterhouses provided for by the system of the Northern prefecture: that of SOFA in Bailleul and Douaisienne in Douai.
The place of slaughter has an impact on the suffering of the animal. Outside approved establishments – and therefore subject to a certain number of rules – killing cannot be carried out under the same conditions: “It’s done with unsharpened kitchen knives, explains Sébastien Arsac. And I can’t imagine poorly equipped people carrying out bleeding in conditions that minimize the animal’s pain.”
However, he immediately indicates that he is not trying to make individuals feel guilty: “It is the sheepfold and the authorities who must take their responsibilities. There are regulations and they must at least be respected, and then improved.”
It is the sheepfold and the authorities who must take their responsibilities. There are regulations and they must at least be respected, and then improved.
L214 did try, on July 8, to alert the veterinary services of the North. By phone and then by email, which we were able to consult. But no response to this report, “not even an acknowledgment of receipt”. The Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP), for its part, indicates that it is “intervened with breeders before Eid to remind them of the terms of the prefectural decree, which made it possible to limit sales outside a slaughterhouse” and that she was present, on the day of Eid, in approved slaughterhouses, “to guarantee the application of animal protection rules and to check each slaughtered carcass”.
Sébastien Arsac points out, however, that checks could have been made easily since the SOFA was even mentioned on the site of the prefecture, with an implication in Eid known to all, unlike other clandestine sales more difficult to identify. “There are two places, the day before Eid and what we filmed happens”deplores the co-founder of L214.
To hope for a reaction, an open letter in the form of a petition was therefore sent to the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, and to the prefect of the North and the Hauts-de-France region, Georges-François Leclerc. L214 calls for an investigation in order to “determine the number of sheep sold by SOFA and transported illegally.” Sébastien Arsac also hopes for an investigation into the failures of government services. The whole issue for him is to create a “mobilization, which will be decisive for next year”. The goal? May this situation not happen again during future Eid el-Kébir celebrations.
And this while the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais would bring together, according to figures from L214, 5 to 7% of Muslim men and women in France, or 350,000 people. In France, more than 100,000 sheep are killed each year over a period of between one and three days. Although respectful of religious practice, Sébastien Arsac thus evokes, for practitioners, the possible establishment of alternatives to slaughter. He quotes in particular Soheib Bencheikh, former Grand Mufti of Marseille, who believes that bloodshed is not an absolute requirement.