Muslim men describe ritual slaughter at sheep farmer's trial

A Muslim man testified Tuesday that he would not have taken part in a ritual slaughter at an Ottawa farm had he known it was not licensed.

Anthony Scissons charged with running illegal slaughter plant after men killed sheep on his property

Muslim men describe ritual killing of sheep at trial of Ottawa farmer accused of running illegal slaughter plant. 2:19

A Muslim man testified Tuesday that he would not have taken part in a ritual sheep slaughter at an Ottawa farm had he known it was not licensed.

Mohamad Kaseem Amere was at the farm in the rural community of Dunrobin and watched as two other men killed the sheep in accordance with Islamic law —​ a ritual called Dhabihah — in October 2012. He said they chose to buy live sheep from seventh-generation farmer Anthony Scissons because of his focus on raising quality animals.

"The animal has to be good quality it is a requirement in the Dhabihah that it should not be sick or have any bruising," he said outside the court on Constellation Road. "But I was not aware that this farm was not licenced ​— had I known about it I would not have gone there." 

Scissons faces six charges under the Food Safety and Quality Act, including running an unlicenced slaughter plant, and selling and distributing uninspected meat. He has argued the charges are discriminatory because the three men who actually took part in the ritual were not charged.

Law unfair to religious beliefs: lawyer

Lahcen Jouali testified Tuesday that he didn't know there were slaughter farms that performed Dhabihah when he purchased a sheep from Scissons in October 2012.
Farmer Anthony Scissons is accused of running an illegal slaughter plant after men killed sheep in an Islamic ritual on his property. (CBC)

He said he brought his own sanitized knives to kill the sheep, then brought the carcass, including the heart and kidneys, home to share with family and friends.

He said he does not want to buy animals from slaughter farms because of how they are raised. Jouali said it's a challenge to find lean, quality animals like the ones raised by Scissons.

Scissons said his farming methods meet the strict Islamic demand for a near perfect animal.  

"My lambs are free range. They just graze," he said. "Another thing, the lambs have to be a certain age, they can't be castrated, they must be males, they have to have their tails and if they have a horn, the horn can't be damaged because that's not — it's not pure." 

Scissons' lawyer Kurtis Andrews criticized the law. 

"At some point they're going to have to chose between, essentially break the law or are we going to satisfy our religious beliefs," he said. "I don't think it's fair to put people in that position."