Thursday, November 18, 2010

Freedom of religion stops where animal suffering begins

Yesterday newspapers showed many pictures of slaughtered animals. These one in Turkey (click here) A Dutch newspaper showed a photo of a decapitated sheep’s head in a wheelbarrow. In the background the carcass is being skinned. Tuesday saw the start of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, when sheep are slaughtered and the meat shared out among family and friends. But Dutch Party for the Animals leader Marianne Thieme would like to see a ban on ritual slaughter.
Ms Thieme’s bill to outlaw Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter will be debated in the Lower House next week. To win MPs’ support, she will be screening gory videos in parliament showing how conscious animals have their throats cut before being hoisted aloft, struggling as they bleed to death. The Party for the Animals wants livestock to be stunned before they are killed, as they are in non-religious slaughterhouses.
According to Ms Thieme, halal meat is big business in the Netherlands, and in fact a lot of meat on supermarket shelves comes from ritual slaughterhouses, though it isn’t labelled as such. She’s hoping that she’ll be able to win the backing of parties on both left and right. It’s a sensitive issue, she admits, but as far as she’s concerned, “Freedom of religion stops where animal suffering begins.”
Ritual slaughter is inmense cruel.

Holland - Turkey; Fireworks for the wrong reason

Türkiye! Türkiye! An hour before the match, the northern stands of the Holland Amsterdam ArenA were already turning red and white. Not the usual Ajax colours, but the shades of Ay Yıldız, with the moon and star shining on gigantic red flags. The noise was exceptional too, with the Turkish contingent shouting their lungs out, drowning out the bewildered orange army on the southern terraces.

A hellish chorus of boos and hisses engulfed the Holland team as they entered the pitch; the cheers for the Turkish side produced an equal explosion of decibels. An electrically amplified brass band brought some temporary relief, but the din swelled again when the match got underway.
The fans meant business and so did the players. The guests in white dominated the first ten minutes, culminating in a low drive by Burak Yilmaz, deflected just wide by Maarten Stekelenburg’s fingertips. But Holland soon bounced back, creating a flurry of opportunities which all ended in a shrill concert of whistles.

Match interrupted

Then there were loud bangs and red flares. Half a dozen landed on the pitch, prompting Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai to pause the match briefly.
The commotion set off Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who fired a howitzer to test Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel five minutes before the break, followed by a high shot by fresh Barcelona signing Ibrahim Affelay.
The substitutions brought more structure to the Dutch game, interrupted by yet more flares, and more chances. In the 52nd minute, Klaas Jan Huntelaar suddenly emerged in the box to chip in a subtle Hedwiges Maduro cross from the right: 1-0 to Holland.
More fireworks followed, much to the dismay of the Dutch players, the orange army and the ref, who consulted FIFA officials and Turkey's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink. The latter sent his captain to the northern stands to calm the crowd.
The move was the clarion call for a major Turkish offensive on the pitch, with a veritable barrage of shots at goal right until the last minute.

High stakes

1-0 was a result both sides could live with. For a friendly encounter, the stakes had been rather high. The Turks haven't been up to scratch in recent Euro 2012 qualifiers. After two wins and two losses, they currently trail Group A pacesetters Germany by six points and might find it hard to overtake second-place Austria and go through to the European Championship finals. A major defeat against Holland, the World Cup's runners-up, would have further eroded confidence.
It would also have been bad news for their coach Guus Hiddink, a Dutchman returning to his home turf to play the side he successfully led between 1994 and 1998. Faced with growing criticism about his conservative choice of players, Hiddink rejuvenated the Turkey team for Wednesday’s friendly in Amsterdam, picking up young talents like Bundesliga midfielder Mehmet Ekici. And the youngsters did well.
His Holland counterpart, Bert van Marwijk, had taken some risks too, calling up more than half a dozen players who were either injured or had just returned from injury, much to the annoyance of their club managers. Fresh injuries against a physical side like Turkey would certainly have sparked new rows.
In the end, little damage was done, apart from Mathijssen's injury and a hefty FIFA fine for setting off fireworks.

Day Opening - November 18


Autumn mosaic, the Netherlands