150 goats to be sacrificed in public ceremony

One hundred and fifty goats will be sacrificed in a public ceremony in Male’ this evening in a government-organised celebration of 50 years of independence.

However, the former Islamic minister and some other scholars have spoken out against the event, labelling it irreligious.

The ceremony is the first time the government is involved in goat sacrifice events, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. It comes ahead of Independence Day on July 26.

Locals in Male’ have been receiving calls from the campaign office of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) urging them to attend.

The goats will be slaughtered as alms to the attendees after Ishaa prayers and a special prayer of thanks. The event will begin at 6:45 pm at Maafannu stadium in the capital.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, a member of the event’s organising committee, told a press conference yesterday: “We would like to invite all citizens to this prayer and also suggest bringing children of praying age to this event.”

Muaz said events will be held for schoolchildren to sing religious songs in honour of the occasion, while a special song will be dedicated to the event of alms and prayer. The imam will be Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, the minister of Islamic affairs.

Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, former Islamic minister and now a member of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, criticised the sacrifice.

“Even though we don’t know who keeps calling people to attend a prayer which includes alms, be cautious to not to attend such irreligious activities,” he said.

Sheikh Imran Abdulla, president of the conservative religious Adhaalath party, tweeted: “Slaughtering goats. Is it religious or political?”

Muaz rejected the criticism, saying: “This is not irreligious as some may define it. I have not heard of any scholar officially saying so either, but defining it this way is very disappointing.”

No government money will be used for the event, said Muaz, as it is being run in collaboration with businesses and religious groups.

Ablution facilities will be available from the stadium, but Muaz advised people to come fully prepared to avoid the long queues.

An Islamic NGO began the trend of slaughtering imported goats for Eid al-Fitr in 2010, but this is the first time the government has taken on the project. The animals are not indigenous to Maldives.

The goat slaughter is one of a series of events to celebrate the anniversary of the Maldives becoming independent from Britain in 1965. It had previously been a British protectorate since 1887.

Some 2,000 people including the vice president and criminal court chief judge swam from Villingili to Male’ last week in celebration of independence.


Livestock import ban following anthrax scare in Tamil Nadu

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has enforced a ban on importing live animals and meat to the Maldives from Tamil Nadu in India following an anthrax outbreak, local media reports.

A statement from the HPA read that two towns in Tamil Nadu had reported an outbreak of anthrax, and as a precautionary measure the agency had banned live animal and meal imports from any state within Tamil Nadu.

The HPA has urged against using live animals and meat produced after December 31, 2012 imported from India.

“Normally anthrax affects animals such as goats and cows. However, humans can get the disease from animals. Humans contract the disease by coming in contact with infected animals, airborne germs and consuming meat of infected animals,” the HPA stated.

Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, according to the agency.

Orf virus found in Thilafushi goat

Prior to being abolished, the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) reported that a goat in Thilafushi had tested positive for the Orf virus earlier this month.

Despite the Ministry of Agriculture earlier stating that Orf is a dangerous virus, as reported by local media, the CCHDC said it does not pose a great risk to humans.

Epidemiologist at CCHDC Dr Aishath Aruna said that a human can only contract the virus by coming into direct contact with an infected goat, Sun Online reported.

“Humans can contract the disease from goats, by coming into direct contact with an infected goat. It’s not a dangerous disease. Only people who tend and rear goats are at risk,” Aruna was quoted as saying by local media.

In regard to goats being reared in Thilafushi – otherwise known as “garbage island” – Dr Aruna told Sun Online that eating the meat from these goats could pose a risk to humans.

The Thilafushi Corporation said the island is used for industrial purposes, and that people who rear goats in the island do so without obtaining the necessary permits.

The CDHDC was abolished by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik earlier this month. The President’s Office confirmed that functions and responsibilities of the CCHDC were to be transferred to the HPA.

The CCHDC had been working to identify diseases prevalent in the Maldives, and to prevent disease and increase health awareness.