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Animaleft Statement on Animal Sacrifice

The selective condemnation of animal sacrifice on Bakr Id stigmatizes Islam and harms both human and animal rights.

At Animal Left we are against the sacrifice of animals for religious purposes. We believe that sacrifice of animals to propitiate gods exacerbates their instrumental “property status” and undermines their intrinsic value as sentient beings.

However, we are also against selective condemnation of animal sacrifice. Every year, in the weeks preceding the Muslim festival of Id-al-Adha (Bakri Id), several Indian animal protection organisations make an annual statement condemning the practice and asking the government to ban it. These statements soon spiral into hate-filled responses on social media, and in the guise of decrying religious animal slaughter, we end up alienating entire communities.

In a political landscape that’s barely holding together across burning religious faultlines, to hold only Muslims accountable for a practice that is common across Hindu and Muslim communities reeks of inadvertent complicity with the larger pogrom of weaponizing animals against Indian Muslims and Dalits.

At Animaleft we believe and support constructive, sustained, long-term dialogue to effect change. This cannot happen through sensationalising animal sacrifice and stigmatising the Muslim community. As animal advocates, we must build dialogues across all Hindu and Muslim communities that consider animal sacrifice essential to their faith, especially religious leaders and government agencies.

One constructive way to achieve that is to elevate the status of the animals themselves, instead of denigrating the human communities. An appeal for a change in our collective moral compass and methods of worship can only be made if we engage with respect and empathy. Pious people must re-consider whether their community ought to be brought together over the bodies of animals who have known only suffering. Many Hindus and Muslims are in fact walking away from animal sacrifice to plant based substitutes.

Animal sacrifice is never a purely religious matter. Only a capitalist animal farming system can meet the year-round demand for lakhs of animals. This in turn forms a vicious cycle of the mass production of animals, their surplus availability for slaughter, normalization of animal sacrifice and the generation of further demand. Our critique and activism has to target the industrial complex of animal agriculture.

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