A peaceful gathering of PETA India staffers outside India’s largest mosque in Bhopal took a violent turn when an angry mob of men who had been lying in wait attacked the group of women, hurling stones and trying to tear off their clothes.
The peaceful appeal, which was led by a Muslim PETA India staffer wearing a dress adorned with lettuce leaves, was organised as a plea to festival-goers to choose non-violent ways to give alms to the poor, such as gifts of grains, fruit, clothing or money – instead of paying to have goats slaughtered during the Bakra Eid religious commemoration of Abraham’s offering of his son to God.
Every year during Eid, the streets of India run red with the blood of millions of slaughtered goats, many of whom play with and are the beloved pets of children until they go to the knife. Instead of killing animals, PETA India is appealing to Muslims to celebrate in non-violent ways, as many Muslims already do, by giving fruit, lentils and other food offerings or by donating clothing and money to the poor.
But PETA India’s simple plea for compassion was met with violence.
The angry mob, which police estimated to have risen to 4,000 people, had apparently gathered in anticipation of the event. After men in the crowd reportedly shouted for the group of PETA India members, who were all women, to be stripped and stoned, men started hurling rocks and assaulting the women, who were forced to run for their lives. One staffer sustained severe facial injuries and other wounds and remains hospitalised. Another staffer’s pants were ripped as the mob tried to tear at her clothes. Three police vehicles were smashed, and several police officers were beaten as they tried to reason with the crowd. Two PETA India staffers remain in protective police custody. Local men apparently affiliated with the mosque have charged the women with “outraging religious feelings”.
PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura told the media that “PETA organises peaceful animal protection awareness programs for Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Janmashtami and other holidays as well as Eid” and that “it is shameful that in working to stop violence, our volunteers were made to suffer violence”.
For ideas about how to prepare a cruelty-free Eid feast, check out this blog post.