Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is synonymous with free meat for the poor and delicious meat dishes for every Muslim family. Yet, Turkey has a bad reputation when it comes to slaughtering animals for the feast because ordinary people attempt to slaughter sheep and cattle themselves instead of hiring professionals.
Most end up in emergency wards after they cut themselves while others are blamed for torturing animals with shoddy slaughtering practices.
The government announced yesterday that people torturing sacrificial animals during the slaughter will be fined up to TL 2,700 ($785). Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu, whose ministry oversees animal welfare, told Anadolu Agency that sacrificial animals should be slaughtered rapidly in line with religious rituals to prevent the grisly images of animals fighting for their lives, which has been common in past years.
Ahead of this year's holiday, which falls on Sept. 1, would-be slaughterers are also being offered courses at state-run Public Education Centers.
Forty courses have been devised for slaughterers, including lessons on slaughtering, skinning, removal of internal organs, meat storage techniques, hygiene during the slaughter and first aid in case of a maiming incident. Licensed slaughterers, paramedics and religious experts teach the courses both in classrooms and slaughterhouses.
Professionals show ordinary citizens, who assertively assume the duty of slaughtering, how to avoid common mistakes to avert cuts to the hands and legs. Participants are taught how to handle a knife and cleaver properly to protect against the risk of losing a finger.
Every year, hundreds of people fill emergency wards across Turkey during Eid al-Adha for slaughter-related injuries. These amateur slaughterers, as they are dubbed by local media, suffer cuts to their hands and legs, especially when animals sensing their impending snuffing out get out of control and kick and butt their cleaver-wielding owners.
Apart from these incidents, would-be slaughterers spend their holiday pursuing flustered bulls and sheep that escape their inevitable end. Municipalities started deploying teams armed with tranquilizer guns and lassoes to capture escaped sacrificial animals.
The ritual reflecting the account in the Quran about Abraham, who was given a ram by God who had told him to sacrifice his son Ismail (Isaac), is observed every eid.