Letter: No justification for sheep slaughter

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is little theological justification for Muslims all over the world to sacrifice sheep at the time of the haj in Mecca (report, 29 April). The Holy Koran only says: "Accomplish the Pilgrimage ... but if you are hindered then make whatever offering is easy..." (2:196). When the Prophet of Islam made the sacrifice in Medina, it was because he was physically prevented by his enemies from making the Pilgrimage.

Some time ago, the Saudi Arabian government stopped pilgrims from making their own sacrifice. Instead they now give money to pay for sheep to be killed, butchered and frozen in a processsing plant near Mecca, and for the meat to be sent to poor countries. The logical next step will be for the pilgrims' money to be used to pay for food aid to these same countries. That would put an end to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Australasian sheep currently transported across the Indian Ocean each year to die in Arabia.

Now that the pilgrims in Mecca no longer sacrifice sheep with their own hands, it seems only a matter of time before Muslims elsewhere cease to be expected to do so.

P J Stewart