Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Silence of the Lambs

(with apologies to Hannibal Lecter)

... still on hiatus, still in denial about having to soon leave the land of courteous motorists, dvd-rentals, poppyseed bagels & non-abrasive toilet paper, still hoping that I can bag a jackpot on this weekend's lottery but have just realised that I can avoid one of Islam's great shames - the ritual & mindnumbingly wasteful slaughter of gazillions of sheep (over 6 million killed last January in Morocco alone) -this winter. And when I say avoid, I mean not be there. That almost (repeat: almost; nope, repeat it again: almost) makes me want to go back. Or at the very least, it takes the sting out. Or more accurately, it takes one of the stings out.

Yes, just moments ago, Mr. Cat in Rabat sent me the dates for Ramadan 2006 because like any sentient ex-pat living in Morocco, we must make cunning plans for our liquor haul & consumption. An alumna from the School of Once Bitten Twice Shy, I will not, will not, will not repeat last year's mistake of "hoarding" 1 feeble bottle of Rosé and half a dozen beer for the entire month. What in god's name had I been thinking? Besides, this time I will have Mr. Cat in Rabat with me, whose beer consumption alone rivals his capacity to inhale oxygen. So having just been apprised that Ramadan will be over by the 3rd week of October, the tiny hamster-generated apparatus in my head started a-whirrrrring & I have calculated that Eid El Kebir (or Eid ul-Adha as its more commonly referred to in Morocco, or The Day of Reckoning as it's more commonly referred to by our ovine friends) will fall around New Year's. O joy! O bliss!

Now, why do I care? - or more importantly, why should you care? Indeed, why is this snippet of calendrical prognostication even blogworthy?

For no other reason than you, dear reader, will likely be spared another diatribe in the same vein as last year's general freak-out when a sheep was butchered beneath my bedroom window. Since this year's Silence of the Lambs will coincide with the Christmas holidays (aka, the Silence of the Turkeys), I will have hied myself to a sheep-friendly country where I won't have to listen to the screams of frenzied lambs, smell the roasting of their skulls & offal, or watch pairs of gruesome itinerant butchers, clad in bloodied aprons and rubber boots, walk the deserted streets of Rabat brandishing their knives. If I thought that I wouldn't spill my coffee, I'd tippy-tap a happy dance.

In fact, in honour of "avoiding" this year's Silence of the Lambs Eid El Kebir, I might even celebrate with a light supper of fava beans and a nice Chianti.


Blogger knarf said...

Hoarding booze? That should take the sting out of Ramadan, eh Ms. Cat?

8:07 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I *knew* you'd get that one. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

8:15 p.m.  
Blogger ByronB said...

So, I guess the price of woolly coats plummets at the beginning of the year?

It's a good job they don't reenact everything in the bible - there'd be pillars of salt everywhere, and just imagine all the whale-stuffing expeditions.

8:49 p.m.  
Blogger Sencer said...

Hey, nice to see you back in blog.

Your note sounds like that you think that the sheep are killed for no reason, well, CiR, the sheep are eaten, not thrown away. In case if you are a vegetarian, but a one who also opposes other people to eat meat, than I have no words to say.
Two thirds of its meat should be given to others, (poor, and relatives), which makes it quite a pleasent day for those who can't afford buying meat. I don't know Morocco, but in Turkey, there are charities accepting the outskin to raise funds or the meat to send to other poor countries.

However you are damn right about the uncivilised and barbaric nature of doing it. These people should ask themselves whether God, Himself, approves the way it is being done, on the streets, by unprofessionals, and by giving extreme pain to the sheep as you witnessed.

Hmm, thanks for warning me about the ramadan period. I define the drink "The beer" as something that makes me lose myself after 10 glasses and the thing that doubles the amount of cigarettes I smoke. However, on a local restaurant in Ifrane, I saw something called "Beer with no alcohol". I haven't tried it, but have consumed some bottles of Coke, and it was not tasting the same, probably it is about the water used. Oh,Lord, Coke was the last thing I was expecting to be different, who knows what the beer tastes like?

8:59 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Hi Senser,
I am aware that Eid el Kebir is a solemn (and joyous) religious ceremony but I do take exception to
a) the numbers of sheep killed, and
b) the barbaric manner in which they are dispatched.

In regards to the first point, there is a keeping up with the Jones' attitude in Moroccans which dictates that every family have at least 1 sheep despite their financial situation. People go into debt for the sake of appearances and sheep are unnecessarily slaughtered where families could have shared an animal or bought a shank rather than a whole animal. In other parts of the Muslim world, less affluent families slaughter alternate animals (like fowl). I don't doubt that there are acts of charity performed, but I do have a problem when demand results in the importation of sheep into Morocco from France & Spain (carted by truck and boat under inhumane conditions). Obviously I am an outsider looking in, but here in Rabat I see unnecessary waste, vanity, financial deprivation, and the suffering of animals.

While in Morocco, I don't seek to convert anyone to vegetarianism (it's a lost cause!) but I do point fingers at animal abuses. And Eid el Kebir amptly provides me with an unwelcomed opportunity.

9:18 p.m.  
Blogger Sencer said...

"People go into debt for the sake of appearances",
that's a shame! I can't believe there is social pressure, it is so stupid.

I asked a friend whether there is a condition in the religion about who should do it, and he says one should at least have a wealth equal to 96 grams of gold and no debt. I don't know how to convert that into a common currency that makes sense to all of us, but at least i can judge it is not required for everyone.

I totally understand how bad it looks from outside. I wish muslims represent their religion better. Because it is such a nice religion, and taught me great things about life. It is so unfortunate that muslim communities are generally uneducated, poor and even uncivilised.

ps: a fowl is certainly not accepted, I know for sure, but a cow or a camel can be shared by upto 7 people.FYI

10:05 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Glad we see eye to eye on this - or at least, to see each other's perspective. I didn't think chickens were "kosher" as a sheep substitute but I knew of a few exceptionally poor Egyptian families who had no other option. I can't help but think that if Allah is indeed watching over us, he would rather see a poor family offer him a chicken than go into penury.

1:15 a.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

I'm not a vegetarian, and neither am I an animal rights activist. Indeed, C in R and I have nearly come to blows WRT my views on Canada's sealhunt.

That being said, I'm pretty uneasy about the torture and ritualized killing of any animal. Events like bullfights, foxhunts, sport hunting and fishing pretty much turn my stomach, and I fail to see how anyone finds enjoyment or glory in such treatment of our fellow species on this planet.

I wonder what such "wholesome family activities" like Eid el Kabir teach the young people of those parts of the world in which the slaughter takes place?

11:39 a.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

What I found really distressing was online photos of kids hugging their soon-to-be butchered sheep ... like one would embrace a shetland pony. I can't help but think (and I may be in the minority here) that this desensitizes children to the welfare of animals.

1:28 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...


Perhaps I was of a different temperment when I was a child, but if I watched the slaughter of an animal that I'd been hugging only moments before, I'd be traumatized beyond belief! That's tantamount to torture.

8:23 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Well yes, that was my attempt to be p.c.
Having said that, I was traumatized flushing dead goldfish down the crapper.

12:10 a.m.  

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