“We discussed with our two children and we made the decision: no sheep at home this year. “Imad and Leïla quickly settled the question, they say. This couple of Algerian academics decided to buy a sheep at the slaughterhouse and “apply the rules of religion, give two-thirds to the most deprived”. “It is collective suicide to allow the slaughter to be organized in the neighborhoods, with all the people who congregate around”, adds Leïla, who is angry with the authorities for not having outright banned the ritual of the sacrifice of the sheep of Eid-el-Kebir this Friday.

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The ritual maintained …

On July 14, the Interministerial Commission on Fatwa (religious opinion) declared itself in favor of maintaining the sacrifice of sheep during Eid while recommending that all necessary precautions be taken and that barrier measures be observed to avoid a greater proliferation of the new coronavirus. The same commission also called to perform the Eid prayer at home, in groups or individually, without preaching. The maintenance of the sacrificial ritual, if it satisfied a good part of the opinion attached to the ritual, made the health specialists jump while the cases of contamination know an increase this weekend after a very short lull. On Tuesday, Algeria recorded 616 cases and eight deaths for the last 24 hours.

… against the advice of specialists and health professionals

This week, a group of experts (in epidemiology, pneumophtisiology and internal medicine) called for “a renunciation of the sacrifice of the sheep this year”. “In all wilayate [départements] There are many examples of entire families affected by the infection, with sometimes, unfortunately, a fatal outcome for the most fragile members. The regroupings created by the events of a family nature (weddings, funerals …) or religious (Eid-el-Fitr) were pointed out as factors directly responsible for the epidemic outbreak, destroying all the efforts and sacrifices made since the beginning of the response ” , say these experts.

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In their eyes, lessons should be learned: “Our group joins its voice to that of the Collective of medical science teachers, widely relayed in the press and on social networks by a good number of eminent doctors and health professionals who clearly pleaded in the direction of the high authorities of the country for a renunciation of the sacrifice of the sheep in this year 2020. ”In mid-July, the Collective of professors in medical sciences recalled that“ the cancellation of the sacrifice decreed, during the Eid of 1966 by the late President Houari Boumédiène, certainly in a completely different context then aiming to give more time to the herds to multiply, however had the support of the entire Algerian population ”. The same collective proposed that “in each commune, an imam or the mayor of the locality carries out the sacrifice on behalf of all its population”.

The question of containment raised

This controversy flares up as voices call for the imposition of total and strict confinement. Asked about the possibility of imposing semi-confinement during Eid-el-Kébir as was the case during Eid-el-Fitr (end of Ramadan), the Minister of Health reacted: not say that it will be confined in the same way, but the similarity between the two festivals, it is the family meetings, while taking into account, this time, the gatherings of people around the sheep, in particular on the day of the ‘Eid through the act of beast sacrifice. The National Union of Public Health Practitioners (SNPSP) pleads for “total containment” during the two days of Eid. For his part, Khaled Saïd, president of the Union of Algerian Doctors (UMA) for the Eastern region, shares this concern: “We are certain that the figures will skyrocket after Eid. Full containment is the best solution. “

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Breakdown of sheep selling points

In the meantime, the sale of sheep is being organized and adapted to the new pandemic situation. Visually, informal markets, in private garages in town for example, are in sharp decline in Algiers. The wali (prefect) of the capital had prohibited access to the department for trucks and vehicles for transporting, selling livestock and fodder outside authorized points of sale, except for the transport of livestock intended for slaughterhouses, on presentation of ‘a veterinary certificate.

Points of sale are being organized on the outskirts of towns, particularly on farms and farms. “There, the owners of the premises seriously impose the instructions of distancing and protection, it is their place of work and life sometimes, so they are more careful”, testifies Ali, who went to look for his sheep in one of the farms. south of Algiers. “But it is the customers who must be disciplined: why come with the family or in a group to buy a sheep? He asks himself.

Others prefer to follow the new fashion of sheep sales… on the Internet. Online sales sites and social networks offer an unprecedented showcase for this virtual market. Free delivery is guaranteed, the animal’s state of health and its characteristics are well defined … “I assure you that my sheep is organic, it does not eat anything industrial”, we read in an online ad! Return to Imad and Leïla who delegated the slaughterhouse to choose and sacrifice the sheep. “In the Koran, God says” Neither the flesh nor the blood of these animals have any importance for God. Only your piety counts for Him “”, launches Imad, adding: “So why all this madness around the ritual? The main thing is to preserve lives. “

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