Animal rights activists march in Paris demanding closure of slaughterhouses

“Organic or not, meat equals murder!” “Tomorrow, everyone a vegan, yes we can!” These were just some of the slogans shouted this Saturday during a protest calling for an end to the killing of animals for food. Several hundred people, some of whom had come by coach from Lyon and Rennes in France and Brussels in Belgium, marched through southern Paris in a friendly atmosphere. Many of them were dressed in red and held placards calling for the closure of abattoirs, sometimes with disturbing photos of animals being slaughtered. Some belonged to the Animal Liberation Front.


Despite (or perhaps because of) France not exactly being a beacon when it comes to animal rights, the movement behind this march was actually set up here last year. Similar marches also took place this Saturday in the south-western French city of Toulouse and in the UK, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, the US, Canada, Brazil and Australia.


Before the march began, I spoke to Diana and Gitte, both in their thirties. “There is no reason we should believe ourselves superior to animals”, said Diana, who lives in Paris. “They have rights too”. Gitte, who had come by coach from Belgium, said she was disappointed at the reaction she got when she told people she was going to a protest against slaughterhouses. “They found it absurd. But they shouldn't”, she said, believing that in time, with increased awareness, the killing of animals for food would stop. “In any case, if we do nothing we won’t change anything”, Diana added.


Diana (right) and Gitte before the protest. Fermons les abattoirs ! means Close the slaughterhouses!


The protest set off from in front of the former slaughterhouses in Paris’ 15th district, which closed in 1976, and where one activist put up an official-looking plaque. “To the animals that died in the abattoirs”, it read, “so that one day the blood of animals may stop flowing”. Before setting off, one of the protest leaders gave a speech, during which he wondered aloud why the abolition of the death penalty did not apply to animals.


The protesters in action. Both young and older people turned out for the event.


During the march, the protesters booed loudly each time they passed a butcher’s shop. They also stopped several times to carry out a “die-in”. With their red clothes symbolising the blood of animals, they lay down on the street in silence and played dead while Chopin's Funeral March played over the loudspeaker. This “happening” was most effective at the intersection of two main thoroughfares lined with shoppers and passers-by, the boulevard Saint Michel and the boulevard Saint Germain. The protesters stopped traffic for several long minutes, leading to much tooting of horns by irate drivers.


One of the "die-ins", where the activists played dead for several minutes.


Some protesters brought their pet dog to the march.


The protest ended at place Saint-Michel, a busy area full of tourists and shoppers, where the activists carried out a final “die-in”. Before the group dispersed, their leader addressed them again and compared the killing of animals for food to slavery or to gender inequality, both of which were not questioned for a long time. “These killings [of animals] are not inevitable”, he concluded.


All photos © Caroline Clarkson.

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Confused by how a peaceful demonstration is forcing anyone to do anything. Obviously you will go on enjoying the meat that someone else killed for you. Obviously no one can convince you to do otherwise. Obviously animals are nothing to you and you believe in your right to end life because of your taste buds. Great. We know... But to turn around and accuse those demonstrating in order to try and educate of forcing you when the only force used is that of the knife that kills is real bad faith
Thank you to those speaking up for compassion over killing.
Looks like a lot of leather and animal-killing plastics in those pictures. Think of all the poor creatures which died when the wood was cut/processed to make those pickets and signs!! Oh dear! Think of all the birds killed by the windmills used in generating the electricity used to power those phones, cameras, and these Internet sites. Oh dear! Think of all the energy used by these folks commuting to and from this event, and the impact on all the wild animals and plants. Oh dear! Hypocrites, every one of them.
I don't understand why some people are so vitriolic about vegans and vegetarians. They have as much right to march and state their opinions as anyone else. Good for them having the guts to stand up for animal rights, after all they can't do it for themselves can they????
Yet another group in which members have identified their beliefs with their egos; yet another group whose members are so sure they're right that they give themselves permission to dictate to the rest of us, and to advocate trampling on the rights of others who don't share their cause or their views. Tell you what: when you're elected to office based on your animal rights platform and have a mandate to implement your views, the rest of us might go along. Until then, your sense of self-entitlement notwithstanding, you don't get to dictate conduct to anyone who doesn't share your views and beliefs. Even when their hearts are pure, I have to laugh at cause-driven people who rant and rave, blissfully unaware of (or unwilling to accept) a simple truth: you can't browbeat or force people to do things your way with any lasting success, as even a passing knowledge of history illustrates. But good luck anyway with your current approach. You'll need it.
I totally support their is a matter of time if we could live happy healthy lives without harming others.....WHY WOULDN'T WE?????
I support the campaign to "fermons les abbatiors" to salvage Human empathy Life and dignity for the animals ! There is nothing "too funny nor fascist: about these People. Enjoy your steak and perish early from blocked, sclerosed arteries !
I think that these people are heroic and are making history! The time has come to stop senseless slaughter in the name of fattening up the world's privileged while our poor starve. Also...not sure what's so fascist about standing up for what's right and just.
At last some city-centre animal rights movement in France, and very well done it was. I don't think you'll see much reaction from the French, at least not yet, as on the whole they don't seem to care about anything except that their lives continue on in the same old way and nothing should interfere with that. They say "Cruelty? What is that? It has nothing to do with us." "We have got to eat meat to live . . ." Aaah. But how well do you live, on your cruel meats? Liver problems? Heart problems? Harvard scientists are yet another group who say "give up meat to ensure a long and healthy life". The evidence grows stronger for non-animal food nutrition. I don't know what is worse: that the French don't care about the awful cruelty they eat, or the animals suffering that cruelty. (The silly remark by "ymb" above is typical of a person half-alive and mentally lacking which websites like this usually seem to attract. You are what you eat.) Congratulations to the well-thought out demonstration in Paris. Please keep making these protests. It will eventually sink in . . .
These people are too funny! (and mildy fascist) I shall enjoy my steak tonight.

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