Belgium: Gov't asks for understanding around Eid

Marino Keulen, Flemish Minister for the Interior, asks for understanding for the efforts that hundreds of government workers had to put in in order to make sure the Islamic holiday, Eid ul-Adha, passed successfully. Keulen said that during a visit to the temporary slaughter place in Lokeren, after the mayor, Filip Anthuenis was criticized by the Moroccan community.

"The local authorities made many arrangements to have the ritual slaughter take place on December 31st, according to the law and with respect for the freedom of religion." said Keulen. "The decision last week by the theologians in Saudi Arabia to start the holiday on December 30th caused some problems in the mobilization of different services. I therefore ask for understanding and thank mayor Anthuenis and all other people who assisted around the holiday."

Lokeren expected 229 sheep to be slaughtered during the weekend. The Turkish community stuck to Dec. 31st, but the Moroccan community wanted to slaughter sheep on Saturday in the municipal slaughterhouse. That was not possible, according to Anthuenis, who was criticized by part of the Moroccan community. Meanwhile the problems had been worked out said Anthuenis. The Moroccans could use three private slaughterhouses on Saturday.

These were organized by the Muslim community itself, with the consent of the Federal Food Agency and in the presence of a veterinarian. The local integration service is a great advocate of those private slaughterhouses since the religious atmosphere of the holiday can be better reached by smaller initiatives.

Keulen thinks private slaughterhouses are a good idea as long as they are of certain size. "Individual home-slaughter is still forbidden."

Source: HLN (Dutch)

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