Will bullfighting be banned soon?

Paris. For some, bullfighting in the arenas of southern France is a living culture and tradition, for others simply barbaric. A move to ban the so-called corrida, to be debated in parliament in Paris next week, has led to heated discussions in France. The subject is polarizing, although the bullfights, which are also a huge economic factor in cities such as Arles, Nîmes or Perpignan, have been the subject of arguments for years. The discussion of animal welfare and tradition is mixed with outrage that the distant capital wants to dictate to people in the south what is right and wrong.

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At the start of a parliamentary committee debate on Wednesday, left-wing MP Aymeric Caron, who is proposing the ban, criticized bullfighting as a “hypocritical ceremony in which the supposedly honored animal is slaughtered with a precision and sophistication bordering on sadism.” Pressure from lobbies prevents the matches from being banned long ago. In Nîmes, where the bullfighting festivals generate millions in revenue, the city council launched a petition to preserve the fights, which conveyed “universal values”, France 3 broadcaster reported.

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French Animal Welfare Federation: Put an end to suffering shows

“MP Caron wants to explain to us on very moralistic grounds – from a Paris perspective – what is good and bad for people in the south,” said the mayor of Mont-de-Marsan, Charles Dayot, vice-president of the Union of Bullfighting Cities France is . “Now the MPs are not elected to destroy the diversity of the regions, but to defend it,” Dayot told the broadcaster. Retired philosophy professor Francis Wolff, who defends bullfighting in a book, spoke of a “culture that is difficult for outsiders to understand”.

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Meanwhile, the French Society for the Welfare of Animals (SPA) launched a petition to ban animal fighting. “And if it was a dog, would you accept that it was killed in the name of tradition?” reads an image accompanying the campaign, showing a bullfighter with a drawn sword in front of a dog. “It is time to put an end to these shows of suffering where a sentient being is tormented for entertainment,” the union demanded.

Disputed tradition: Pamplona bullfight with multiple injuries

At the weekend, the bullfight and the running of the bulls took place for the first time in two years through the city of Pamplona.

There is some disagreement in the party

Although 74 percent of people in France want a ban on bullfighting, according to a poll on Thursday, 71 percent of residents in a summer vote in the bullfighting towns spoke in favor of preserving the tradition. After the committee proceedings, it does not appear that the third attempt at a bullfighting ban after 2013 and 2021 will succeed. In any case, a heated debate between opponents and supporters is expected in the Folketing. Even some of the parties are divided in their position. The government camp is against a ban, not least in order not to give the impression that Parisian views are being imposed on the provinces.

In the French Basque Country and in Spain, the bullfighting tradition has been contested for years. For many, it is a national symbol and art. Opponents of the custom consider the controversial spectacle to be brutal animal abuse, as the bulls often did not survive. The exemption clause in the Animal Welfare Act, which allows bullfighting to continue, has already set clear limits. The bullfight is only possible in certain areas where it is considered part of the cultural heritage.

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Demonstrations planned for the weekend

This is the case between the Arles region and the Basque Country, between the Garrigues and the Mediterranean and between the Pyrenees and Gascony. Courts defined the boundaries of the bullfighting region years ago, and opponents’ attempts to reduce them failed.

Incidentally, not all bullfights in France end with the animals being killed. This is not the case with the so-called Carmague races, where the aim is to pick trophies from a bull’s forehead and horns. These bulls are then returned to the pasture. However, this type of bullfighting is also extremely dangerous: this spring, a 20-year-old fighter died in such a competition near Montpellier.

Ahead of the parliamentary debate, both camps are planning several demonstrations this weekend – opponents forming in Paris, supporters mobilizing in about a dozen bullfighting towns.

RND/dpa

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