Bullfighting: Is it a tradition or torture?

ON February 11, 2016, the Balearic Islands parliament took a step in what many expats and animal rights groups considered to be the right direction, by voting to amend the animal protection law to include a ban on all forms of bullfighting in the islands.

The news was welcomed on www.euroweeklynews.com and the EWN Facebook page by hundreds of readers, who added their comments and opinions on both sites.

However we must pose ourselves a fundamental question. As expats, we are in essence guests in a foreign country. Although we may consider the killing of an innocent animal for entertainment wrong and wish for it to be banned, we must ask ourselves who we are to walk into a country not our own, which has welcomed us with open arms, and demand that long-standing cultures and traditions be changed to tend to our feelings on the matter.

American writer Ernest Hemingway was a diehard fan of bullfighting, describing it as “the only art in which the artist is in danger of death, and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour,” in his seminal work Death in the Afternoon.

40,000 is the estimated number of bulls killed by the bullfighting industry in Europe each year

Those Spaniards who support the ancient custom fiercely assert that the tradition celebrates the aesthetic of the interaction between man and bull, opponents of equal but different strengths if ever there were two, and strongly defend their right to a culture which was present in the country long before animal rights’ activists, both Spanish and from overseas, were. 

However a recent poll revealed that just 29 per cent of Spanish people actually remain in support of bullfighting.

2,183,000 cows and bulls died in abattoirs in Spain in 2014

Defendants insist that the bull is never, in the modern bullring, viewed as a sacrificial victim but rather as a worthy opponent and sometimes, when ferocity trumps skill, the victorious.

While opponents argue that the matador chooses to take on the bull, while the animal is taken there without consultation, this argument is swiftly countered with a quick comparison to the loss of life in abattoirs.

 Those bulls swallowed by the meat trade far outnumber the relatively tiny amount slain in the course of a fight, fans insist.

While we are firmly against animal cruelty in all shape and form, we must ask our readers this: What right do we, as expats, have to demand Spain changes its customs to suit us while so many of us take offence when in the UK newcomers ask for us to adapt our own customs to avoid offending theirs? 

If we refuse to allow a mosque to replace a church in the UK, how can we then be so hypocritical as to demand Spain changes part of its history and culture to suit us?

Related Article: Bullfighting has now been banned in Balearic Islands

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