.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Azerbaijan Food Channel

I had never, until this evening, seen live chickens slaughtered in a television ad. The ad, which was for halal (the Muslim version of kosher) food started with appealing shots of luscious link sausages (mutton, no doubt) and then moved into a mechanized slaughterhouse, in which hanging chickens were beheaded, according to the law of Allah, with a buzzsaw.

This was actually a big improvement over what AZ-TV had been showing all day.

Today is the National Day of Mourning (personally, I've had about all the mourning I can take, but that's another post). On January 20, 1990, Soviet tanks rolled into Baku to "restore order" when people took to the streets demanding independence. Several hundred people were killed. They are honored on "Martyr's Lane," one of Baku's nicer parks, which overlooks the city and the Caspian.

All day, tens of thousands filed past pictures of the martyrs engraved on a wall, laid flowers and passed the eternal flame. That was pretty much the extent of the action. Fortunately, the state-controlled television channels (which means ALL of the TV channels), were there to capture the drama, with live footage of the throngs marching silently past the wall, interspersed with news reels of Soviet tanks rolling through downtown. The chicken massacre was something of a relief.

But today isn't the only holiday this week. Tomorrow is Gurban Bairam, the Muslim feast which celebrates the end of the Hajj (the holy pilgrimage to Mecca). I expect to see greater than usual numbers of sheep heads and entrails piled around the markets and sidewalks. Devout Muslims are supposed to kill a sheep and distribute it to the poor. Indeed, on Tuesday, shepherds from outlying areas had herded their wet, dirty flocks into tight huddles and parked them alongside the highway into Baku, waiting in the cold rain, I can only assume, for the slaughter bus to come and pick them up.

It's not been a good week for the local livestock community, but the National Day of Mourning is a reminder that there's only a few degrees of separation between history and the present in a place like this.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?