Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha, “the feast of sacrifice”, commemorating the tale of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son at god’s demand, as part of a twisted faith and loyalty test. In reward to Abraham’s obedience, his son is spared, in exchange for a much more “suitable” and “natural” victim – a ram. This epic myth of the ultimate obedience and its, so called, happy ending is commemorated in all 3 monotheistic religions, and is still universally admired. Millions of animals, all around the world, would be slaughtered tomorrow in millions of Muslim houses and public squares.
Knowing such butchery happens daily all over the world, many activists give it no special attention. They see it as more of the same horribleness, disregarding the added spiritual and cultural element and its long term implications.
But the ritual is significant even if it doesn’t increase the number of victims in the short term (assuming more or less the same number of animals would have been slaughtered as part or separately from the ritual). And it is so from 3 main angles.
In the last couple of years the top rated charity of the effective altruism movement is the Against Malaria Foundation, an organization dedicated to protect people from the disease by funding mosquito nets distribution.
The malaria net has long been a symbol for aid, but the fact that it is considered one of the cheapest and most useful ways of saving lives, made it also a symbolic example of the implementation of Singer’s theoretical ideas in his book the most good you can do, the effective altruism movement manifesto.
However, many humans from waterside communities in sub-Saharan Africa are not using these nets against mosquitoes, but against fishes.
Instead of sleeping under a net at night, countless humans sew their net supply together into a gigantic fish net, sweeping up whatever they can from the bottom of the local lakes, swamp and ponds.
And what makes things even worse is that these nets are treated with insecticide, so the fishes which aren’t caught by the giant net, are poisoned by it.
When we started our research about the various animal exploitative festivals in the world for our article Celebrating Suffering, what we had in mind was what is sometimes referred to as bloody fiestas. For example, the Peruvian Yawar which is literally referred to as ‘The Blood Festival’, the Brazilian Farra do Boi, Faeroe Islands’ Grindadráp,the Mexican Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria and the various Spanish fiestas such as Toro de la Vega, La Rapa Das Bestas, Toro Enmaromado and of course Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, probably the most infamous among AR activists due to the famous campaign, which we have addressed in our post The Inherent Objectification.
However we were stunned to discover an endless list of exploitive festivals, all over the world.
In some of them, mostly in what is referred to as western nations (in exception of Spain of course which is by no doubt the worst nation in the world in terms of bloody fiestas), no blood is shed during the festival, but plenty is spilled before and after.
One of them, UK’s National Burger Day, was held for the first time while we were making Celebrating Suffering, where we wrote about it:
“The brits are way too cultured to chase bulls in London streets. They leave this barbarism to the southern savages from Spain.
They want their torture far from the eye and close to their tongue.
So on the 27th of August 2013 they celebrated the first UK’s National Burger Day.
Enlightenedly the victims of the British celebration were slaughtered in an abattoir, following the logic that horrors should be disguised, held behind the scenes, as civilized people do.”
A few days ago the festival was held for the third time and with the same theme, a burger-only street feast, including various “ingenious” ground corpse sandwiches.