- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. — A Muslim group plans to slaughter 100 lambs on a farm this weekend as part of a religious rite, but state officials plan to be there with their video cameras to monitor what they consider an unlicensed slaughterhouse.

The arrangement is the result of negotiations between the state, the Muslims and father-son farmers Kenneth and Eddie Rowe, who have leased their farm in rural Princeton for use during Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice.

The three-day holiday honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son because of his obedience and devotion to God. It also marks the end of the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The state is concerned because the Rowes are not licensed to run a slaughterhouse. They have raised the lambs on their farm 35 miles southeast of Raleigh and will lease it for the weekend to Muslims who want to slaughter a lamb under the rules of halal.

For meat to be deemed halal, an animal must be killed with a sharp knife across the throat with both carotid arteries cut at once. That allows the animal to bleed quickly and die quietly.

While there are three licensed facilities in North Carolina that specialize in halal slaughter, some Muslims prefer to conduct the slaughter themselves.

A lawyer for the farmers, Glenn Barfield, said he does not believe the Rowes are violating any laws by allowing the animals to be killed on their property.

He compared the slaughter to hog killings that are common in eastern North Carolina.

“In eastern North Carolina, we have a long tradition of doing the same thing,” Mr. Barfield said. “We just don’t practice [Islam].”

Agriculture Department spokesman Brian Long said the department’s position is that the Rowes’ farm must be licensed.

“It’s not a matter of why the animals are being slaughtered. It’s a matter of who’s providing the slaughter service and the fact that he doesn’t have a licensed facility,” Mr. Long said.

But Mr. Barfield said people who kill livestock of their own raising are not required to be licensed to slaughter. He said state law allows individuals to share meat with members of their household and nonpaying guests. The Rowes will dispose of any carcasses, he said.

The Rowes have allowed the slaughter for several years. When the Agriculture Department learned of the practice last year, officials told Eddie Rowe that he had to stop.

To get around that problem, the men have leased the farm to Muslims who want to participate, Mr. Barfield said.

The lawyer added that the Rowes also are looking into getting licensed as a custom slaughterhouse, which would allow them to run a facility where people bring their own livestock to be slaughtered.

Mr. Barfield said he does not believe the Rowes need to be licensed to operate legally, but it may be the best solution for them and area Muslims.

Meanwhile, agriculture officials will be watching closely this weekend and videotaping what they see.

“We will be there and see what’s going on,” Mr. Long said. “They’re not licensed — that’s the bottom line here. He doesn’t have a license to operate the type of facility he’s operating.”

Mr. Barfield said he believed officials will realize “this isn’t a lark. It’s a very serious religious ceremony.”

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