'Atrocious' festival drives Bardot to think of flight

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The Independent Online
The former French film star and animal-welfare campaigner, Brigitte Bardot, caused an indignant flutter in a great many dovecots over the weekend by threatening to emigrate from France unless the government curbs the Islamic practice of ritual slaughter.

In an angry newspaper article, published on the eve of yesterday's Muslim festival of Eid el-Adha, she described the practice as "an atrocity" and asked whether "we French have gone so mad as to accept the unacceptable to this degree?"

The article in the conservative Figaro painted a gruesome picture of Aid el Kebir, which Ms Bardot said "entitled every Muslim head of family to slaughter 'his' sheep".

She wrote of herds of sheep being kept illegally and unhygienically by Muslims for the festival, of jugular veins poorly severed and of children running around covered in blood.

During her film career, Ms Bardot said, she had always refused to move to the United States in spite of a many lucrative offers. Now she was asking: "Might I soon have to flee my country that has become a bloody and violent land and move abroad?"

Ms Bardot has spent 20 years campaigning for animal rights from her home in the south of France. But she also has a home in Bazoches-sur- Guyonne, a village not far from Versailles. And this village is one of nine places in the region which have been authorised to carry out the slaughter of sheep before Islamic festivals. Yesterday more than 1,000 sheep were due to be slaughtered there under the supervision of the Islamic religious authorities.

Approved sites for the slaughter ritual were introduced to reduce unauthorised and unhygienic killings. In one incident, police confiscated 40 sheep being kept in a Paris garage for the festival. Concentrating the killing in certain places, however, has also drawn attention to the practice.

Ms Bardot's article drew an angry response from Muslim groups and anti- racist organisations that interpreted it as directed not just against ritual slaughter but against Islam and immigrants. They noted she introduced herself as "French born and bred" and lamented that "from one year to the next we see mosques flourishing everywhere while our own church steeples are silent for lack of priests".

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