The city council in Hamtramck, Michigan, a city that has a large Muslim population, has voted to allow animal sacrifices to be done at home, despite significant opposition from local residents.
On Tuesday night, the city’s all-Muslim council voted 3-2 in favor of amending a city ordinance to permit the religious sacrifice of animals at home. Mayor Amer Ghalib cast the tie-breaking vote, after which the packed city hall was filled with applause.
There has been opposition to this amendment, with some residents and animal rights advocates fearing that this will lead to animal cruelty and sanitation problems within the densely-populated city. Locals also worry about people being traumatized after seeing animals cut open in neighborhood backyards.
Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Mohammed Hassan tried to quell these fears, insisting that the allowance of animal slaughter will not cause the city to “blow up with nasty blood, contamination.
Nour Ali, a member of the Council of American Islamic Relations Michigan, also addressed the concerns of residents, saying, “The concern is that these Muslim families are not disposing of the animals appropriately or there [is] blood in the streets and it is scaring children. But we have not seen any proof of that.”
Proponents of the new ordinance brought attention to a 30-year-old Supreme Court decision that prohibited city bans on animal sacrifice for members of the Santería religion. They cited this ruling to back their claim that prohibiting their own animal sacrifice would be unconstitutional and violate their religious rights.
Mayor Ghalib also pointed out that, if animal slaughter were to be banned, the city could face lawsuits claiming civil rights violations. The city’s attorney agreed with this, adding that animal religious sacrifice has been legal in Michigan.
“I think many people may be surprised to know that public animal sacrifice is allowed in every city in the state that the state of Michigan allows,” the attorney said, warning that imposing restrictions would be unconstitutional and could result in a lawsuit.
Restrictions have been placed on these sacrificial practices, including the need to notify the city ahead of a sacrifice, schedule a post-sacrifice inspection to ensure proper cleanliness and sanitation, and keep it away from public view.