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Meat ban may cast shadow over Eid-ul-Azha festivities

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New Delhi: With hundreds of families across the country preparing Eid-ul-Azha in the last week of September, the ban on sale of meat, including beef, has come as a huge setback for the traders who were expecting a good business during the festive season.

credit: www.thanhniennews.com
credit: www.thanhniennews.com

Akbar Qureshi, a meat trader in the Mankhurd area of Mumbai, is a worried man since the ban on beef came into force in Maharashtra in March this year under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995. Since then, he has been able to sell very little buffalo meat and is in danger of running out of customers.

“People don’t eat buffalo meat that much. I would earlier sell some 100 kilograms of beef daily, but now I hardly sell 40 kilograms of buffalo meat,” he said.

Akbar is just one among hundreds of traders, dealers and suppliers whose business has been severely affected by the beef ban in the state.

While Maharashtra and Haryana had banned beef earlier, many other states including Gujarat and Chhattisgarh and cities like Mumbai and its suburbs have recently introduced temporary bans on sale and possession of meat for varying number of days in respect of ‘Paryushana’, a Jain fasting season.

The ban on beef comes even as India has emerged as the world’s top exporter of beef since last year. As per data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April this year, India has doubled its beef export from 1.26 million tonnes in 2011-12 to 2.40 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Beef ban means no exports either. Anwar Khan owns Al-Saba exports, a meat exporting company in Mumbai. He is facing huge losses.

“My monthly turnover was around Rs. 2.5 crore. But now I have lost everything and had to fire over 100 employees,” said Khan. “We are running short of buffaloes here, due to which it is impossible to do business,” he added.

Jammu and Kashmir became the latest addition to this list when the state High Court directed the authorities on September 10 to strictly enforce a 150-year-old erstwhile Dogra-rule-era provision of ban on sale and distribution of beef in the state.

Shabir Ahmad, along with his family, has domesticated a bullock to sacrifice this Eid. He is worried about being able to do that due to the ban.

“I would graze the bullock for hours after my day work and would give fodder to keep him in good health,” Shabir said.

Beef is particularly useful since it is cheap and hence bull or bullocks are preferred by many rural families over sheep or goat for the animal sacrifice during the Eid-ul-Azha. Moreover, in religious convention, while a goat or sheep qualifies a single person for the sacrificial obligations, a bovine animal qualifies seven people.

“I can’t afford a separate sheep or goat individually for every family member,” Ahmad added.

Given the religious implications of the ban, the decision has invited harsh criticism from not only the ordinary Kashmiris but also religious bodies. Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the largest such bodies in the Valley, has termed the decision as totally ‘unacceptable’.

G.M. Bhat, Ameer of the Jamaat, said, “It is absolutely not possible to convince the Muslim community to go against their own religion; so we oppose it.”

To protest against the ban, the Valley also observed a two-day strike on the call given by the Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He termed the court’s decision as interference in religious affairs.

Geelani said, “If India boasts of being a secular country, then everyone has a right to practice one’s religion. However, this controversial decision has taken away the freedom of the Muslims only.”

Meanwhile, meat suppliers in the region are now worried about losing their business as the festival season approaches.

Manzoor Ahmad, Anantnag-based supplier, had sold thousands of animals on Eid last year. This year he is looking at a gloomy business scenario.

“Last year, I supplied many animals before the Eid-ul-Azha. If this ban remains, dealers and suppliers will have to face huge business losses,” said Ahmad.

Cow is a revered animal for many in the Hindu community, and therefore its slaughter is considered unacceptable by them. Prohibition of cow slaughter is mentioned as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 48 of the Indian Constitution. The issue, though, has remained largely dormant till recently.

However, recent moves by the BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra and Haryana to cover all bovine animals in the anti-slaughter law and steps by several others to impose temporary meat bans are seen as powerful indicators of the growing influence of the right-wing Hindu organisations since the Narendra Modi government assumed power last year.

(Aijaz Nazir, IANS)

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Muslims in Malaysia Rally In Kuala Lumpur To Keep Status

Mahathir’s new government won a stunning victory in a May 9 general election amid anger over a massive corruption scandal.

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Malaysia, Malay
Protesters rally near a mosque to celebrate the government's decision not to ratify a U.N. anti-discrimination convention, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 8, 2018. Thousands of Malaysian Muslims are rallying against any attempt to strip ethnic Malay majority of their privileges. VOA

Tens of thousands of Malaysian Muslims rallied Saturday in Kuala Lumpur against any attempt to strip the ethnic Malay majority of its privileges, in the first massive street gathering since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s alliance won a historic vote in May.

The rally, backed by the country’s two largest opposition Malay parties, was initially aimed at protesting a government plan to ratify a U.N. treaty against racial discrimination. Critics allege that ratifying the treaty would end Malay privileges under a decades-old affirmative action policy. The plan to ratify was eventually abandoned, but organizers decided to proceed with what they called a “thanksgiving” rally.

Rare racial clashes

Racial clashes have been rare in multiracial Malaysia since deadly riots in 1969. A year later, Malaysia instituted a preferential program that gives Malays privileges in jobs, education, contracts and housing to help narrow a wealth gap with the minority Chinese. Ethnic Malays account for nearly two-thirds of the country’s 32 million people, with large Chinese and Indian minorities.

Malaysia, Malay
A protester covers his face with headbands reading “No to ICERD” during a rally to celebrate the government’s decision not to ratify a U.N. anti-discrimination convention called ICERD at Independent Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 8, 2018. ICERD stands for International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. VOA

Saturday’s rally came less than two weeks after more than 80 people were arrested in a riot at an Indian temple in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur. The government was quick to stress that the violence was the result of a land dispute and was not a racial riot. Still, the government warned Saturday’s rally-goers not to make any provocative statements that could fan racial tensions.

Mahathir said the government allowed the rally as part of democracy, but warned against any chaos. The rally was held under tight police security, but ended peacefully after rain started to fall.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been charged with multiple counts of corruption, was among opposition lawmakers at the rally.

In the streets, 55,000

Police said there were at least 55,000 people on the streets. Many wore white T-shirts and headbands with the words “Reject ICERD,” referring to the U.N. treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The protesters gathered at three locations before marching to a nearby historic square, chanting “Long live the Malays” and “Crush ICERD.”

malay
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right gestures to Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, to move in closer for the group hand shake as Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, left, watches during the opening ceremony of the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits at National Convention Center in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. VOA

“Yes, we did not ratify ICERD, but we are still here to say that we are still against it,” said shopkeeper Rosli Ikhsan. “Even if the government has said they won’t endorse it, we are still protesting with all our might from all of Malaysia.”

Mahathir’s new government won a stunning victory in a May 9 general election amid anger over a massive corruption scandal involving Najib and his government, but many Malays still support Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organization, and the Malaysian Islamic Party, which controls two of the country’s 13 states.

Some analysts say Najib and his party were using the rally to shift attention away from corruption charges against Najib, his wife, his party’s president and former government officials.

Also Read: Syrian Stranded at Malaysia Airport in a Political Limbo

“For me, ICERD is bad,” university student Nurul Qamariah said at the rally. “It’s bad because it will erode the position of Malays. This is a country for Malays. We want Malays to be superiors, but why do these people want to make Malays the same level as Chinese and Indians?” (VOA)