26 April 2004

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

This [see here] is a topic that is close to my concerns at the moment. Australia exports tens of thousands of live sheep to the Middle East every year. Last year, one shipment was refused by Saudi Arabia, and 58,000 sheep spent months at sea, without room to move and in temperatures around 100 degrees. Thousands died. Refusal of shipments is fairly common (of course, the sheep certainly suffer even when all goes to plan; some sheep are too stressed to eat, and starve to death). Information here.

Here's where religion comes in: the sheep are destined to be slaughtered by Muslims performing a religious duty. You write that no religion requires meat eating. True, so far as I know. But some religions require killing: Islam, and also Santeria (see P. Casal, "Is Multiculturalism Bad for Animals?" Journal of Political Philosophy [March 2003]). The shipments are refused because apparently the Koran requires that the sheep be in good condition: obviously, that's hard to guarantee when they're shipped from Australia. This is a big debate at the moment in Australia (I'm addressing the Australian Veterinary Association annual conference on the topic). Of course, I want the sacrifices stopped. But I think given the mutual mistrust between Islam and the West right now, this has to come from their side. We can only hope. . . .



Dr Neil Levy
Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics
University of Melbourne
Parkville, 3010

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