A Florida city commissioner is cracking down on the Islamic slaughter of lambs and goats. Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu has attempted to block a Muslim religious ceremony that involves the ritualistic killing of these animals this upcoming Sunday.
Muslims from various mosques in the area had planned to come together at a farm to participate in the religious slaughter. The festival, called Eid ul-Adha, or the "Festival of Sacrifice," honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son (although, as the story goes, God ended up providing a lamb for sacrifice instead).
In addition to commemorating this event, the day also marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are encouraged to make during their lifetime. However, the ritualistic murder of animals was too much for Alu to bear.
On Wednesday, she discussed her efforts to squash the event. "Yes, I was trying to stop it," she said. "It's shut down. I'm trying to protect innocent animals. This is not an appropriate setting for the slaughtering of animals in an open field in a city that's as populated as Sunrise. Usually these religious ceremonies take place in a rural area."
While some may assume that her actions are rooted in anti-Islamic sentiment, she explains, "I have no ill will toward the Muslim faith. I'm just an animal lover." She continues:
"I don't want to interfere with anyone's religious beliefs, but if you want to slaughter animals it should be done in a slaughterhouse. They stab them in the throat. It's horrible."
Nezar Hamze, the executive director of the South Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is less than content with her decision. "This is very upsetting," he said. "I'm very disappointed in that. We asked for permission and went through the proper channels and now it's off because a commissioner has a problem with it."
Hamze claims that the sacrifices are done according to both state and Islamic law. He characterizes the practice as "humane" and claims that the animals' throats are slit very quickly and that they do not suffer during the process.
After she learned that she couldn't legally prevent the ceremony, Alu decided to call someone who works for the farm's owners. She claims the man told her that the owners weren't aware of the event that was going to take place and that permission had improperly been given.
Despite Alu's efforts to derail the slaughter, Hamze claims that a new, undisclosed venue has been found and that it will be proceeding as originally planned. As for his opinion on Alu, whom he has spoken with, he claims that he believe's she's simply a big animal lover and that he doesn't think she has any malice toward the Muslim community.