Eid animal slaughter in Pakistan: Stolen hides, money laundering, and funding the jihad

by 1389 on October 11, 2015

in 1389 (blog admin), crime, halal food, jihad funding/zakat, Pakistan

Eid animal hides
Eid has turned hides into a black market currency.
Photo by: Zoral Khurram

Roads and Kingdoms: A Stage Set for Slaughter

Pakistan’s largest city is equally known for crime as for cosmopolitanism, and the Eid holiday is just as rife with threats and wrongdoing as any other day of the week. In a place where anything from a goat to an iPhone can be stolen at gunpoint, so too can the skins of the sacrificed animals. Even before the animal has been portioned up, Karachi’s criminal elements look for their way to step in. Strongmen of extremist religious groups and religious charities (fake and real), political party workers, and small-time criminals: they all look to profit from the sale of the animals’ hides.

This introduction of criminality into religious rituals can cause confusion. One reader posted a plaintive request on the Darul Ifta Jamia Binoria seminary’s website, asking for a scholar’s advice on what to do when a hide of an animal was “taken away.” “Mufti sahib I wanted to know about sacrificial animal hides. In our neighborhood, the hides are taken away from people without their consent… At some places this has happened that if they have refused to give over the hides, [the ‘collectors’] have shot the animal while it was alive. If this wounded animal is in misery and is sacrificed, would it be permissible to consume it?”

Yes, the seminary wrote back, one should give the hide if one’s life is at risk, and also donate an amount equal to its price. “If an animal is shot and then sacrificed, eating its meat is halal and if this happens during the days of the sacrifice then the sacrifice will be considered to be lawful,” the fatwa text stated.

For more than two decades, criminals and religious and political strongmen have gone door-to-door snatching hides—“snatching” being the word of choice for any kind of theft in Karachi. This means they force people sacrificing animals to donate leftover hides to them, often at gunpoint. “It has become a very lucrative practice,” Hamid says. “Earlier, people would just give hides to their local mosque, who would then sell a few. But when it started on the ‘Karachi level’”—citywide and amplified because of the extent of crime and the fight for resources—“with political parties involved, it became serious money.”

The hides racket is a dangerous one, given the mix of extremist and militant groups involved. But this isn’t a small-time operation. Anwar Kazmi, a veteran officer of the Edhi Foundation nonprofit, speculates that the business of hides may be worth billions of rupees.

But why hides? “It is money you can’t audit,” he says.

In 2011, the Supreme Court mentioned the fight for hides in its judgment on the state of lawlessness in the city. This year a government-sponsored PSA aired at a local cinema, encouraging people not to donate to unknown groups, lest their donations end up funding terrorism.

“It’s black and launderable money in that sense,” says Hamid.

As Eid nears, charity groups plaster Karachi with banners and billboards, advertising shares in collective slaughters and asking for donations of hides. They pull out all the stops: The charity wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami—one of Pakistan’s main religious-political parties—asks for hides through a billboard featuring the image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose body washed ashore in Turkey. The Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation—a self-described charity that is accused of being a wing of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group—advertises donations for its work in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Burma, Somalia, and the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Collecting sacrificial hides, much like everything else in Karachi, has become part of a turf war between criminals and strongmen of political and religious parties. Every group does it, including small-time operators, to show themselves as players in the game. “There are bragging rights—x number of hides were collected by a group,” Hamid says, just as there’s internal corruption within some parties. “If one guy collects a thousand hides, he’ll sell 900 to his group and keep a hundred to sell himself.”

And some criminals just bypass having to do the dirty work. When the criminal syndicates in the Lyari district—an area known for producing the country’s best footballers as well as biggest gangs—were at the height of their power, they would just steal other groups’ hides. “You’d often hear this stuff over the wireless,” Hamid recalls. “They’d hijack one group’s van, and you’d hear, ‘The van is heading towards Lyari.’”

The journey of an animal from the VIP tent to its stolen hide ending up in Lyari is months and years in the making, as cattle farms raise their finest animals or import cows from Australia. But word of mouth, reputation, and rumor aren’t enough to move cattle. Traveling to markets and farms is inconvenient, and many farms aren’t even accessible to regular visitors. But if Mohammad won’t go to the cattle, the cattle will come to Facebook.
Read it all here.

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