Belgian authorities seized around 70 sheep in total in the provinces of Brabant and Hainaut, preventing the animals from being illegally slaughtered for the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.
The seizures came shortly before the Islamic festival, which took place over the weekend in the two Wallonian provinces, and police say the seizures this year were far higher than the year before.
This year is also the first year in which a new law banning the slaughter of animals without stunning came into effect in Wallonia, with police saying the change in law could explain the rise in the number of seizures compared to 2019, La Dernière Heure reports.
The new law, which came into force in September of last year, allows for individuals to request permits to slaughter animals at home but, in practice, many municipalities outright refuse to grant them as it is impossible for them to determine whether an animal was stunned or not before slaughter.
The animals seized by the authorities were eventually taken in by a local horse shelter in Steenkerque, which took in 65 sheep, and a shelter in Bousval, which offered to take 16 of the animals.
French Police Seize Dozens of Sheep Hidden in Garage Ahead of Islamic Ritual Slaughter Festival https://t.co/twuZeGpO33
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 24, 2018
In 2018, both Flanders and Wallonia banned Islamic ritual slaughter — but the capital region of Brussels which hosts many EU power centres has allowed the practice to remain legal.
This lack of a ban in Brussels has been criticised by many animal rights campaigners.
Global Action in the Interest of Animals president Michel Vandenbosch said in 2018: “[T]he Brussels government must follow the example of Wallonia and Flanders, and definitely put an end to the slaughter without stunning of sheep and cattle everywhere in Brussels.”
Neighbouring France has also had issues with the illegal slaughter of animals during Eid, and in 2018 police seized 32 sheep in the suburbs of Paris that were being hidden in the garage of a local pizzeria.
Police Discover ‘Disturbing Scene’ at Address Used as Suspected Illegal Abattoir in Telford, England https://t.co/NE0nYWo4Jr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 19, 2020