Franco-US “War” at Rodilhan Bullfight?
American animal protection organisations are heading to France to join their French and European counterparts in what could turn out to be a angry confrontation around traditional Rodilhan bullfights over the weekend October 26 and 27.
The anti-bullfight brigade has called up reinforcements and is in full tallyho mood against a village famous for its bullfights and whose Mayor Serge Reder, is a fervent supporter of the local tradition.
The official Facebook page set up by the anti-bullfight groups calls on its supporters to flock to the small village of Rodilhan (near Nîmes) to “stop the massacre of the innocents!” (their reference is to bulls not people!).
Click on the graphic above for the interactive battle plan anticipated by the TOUS A RODILHAN Facebook page. So far, this page suggests more than 1000 supporters can be expected to turn-up at the bullring in what authorities fear may be a planned payback for the treatment meted out in 2011 at what turned out to be a riotious assembly.
Local officials are determined to prevent a repeat of the violent clashes that occurred on Saturday, October 8 during the Graines de Toréros final when bullfighting opponents chained themselves together and were forcibly removed from the centre of the bull ring before the delayed event could start.
The Préfet du Gard Hugues Bousiges who is responsible for law and order, has instructed the village to set up barriers and take measures to avoid a repeat of the incidents. Only ticket-holders will be allowed into the ring and protesters will be kept at arms length from the bullring to avoid physical violence breaking out.
As a result of the prefect’s instructions the mayor October 9 issued a decree banning demonstrations within a radius of 400 m around the arena. Meanwhile barriers have been set up on roads into the village and around the bullring ahead of the weekend fete. “It seems that they are preparing for a war,” one concerned local told Midilibre.fr.
The paper reported some firm views expressed by M Hugues Bousiges: “the role of the prefect is to reconcile the exercise of two freedoms: when a demonstration is legally permitted, it has the duty to protect protesters seeking to express their view. It must also ensure the smooth running of the disputed event and prevent any public order disturbances…it goes without saying that the duty of the prefect is also to protect the bullfighting spectacle”.
The video below makes the official position very clear, emphasising that in the south of France bullfighting is authorised and thus legal.
Defending his choice and his right to go ahead with the bullfighting festival the mayor told the regional paper Midi Libre: “Rodilhan is under pressure from anti bullfighting groups ahead of this event. I want to show people that it is everyone’s right to demonstrate but at some point, there is a yellow line not to be crossed. On the other side the bullfighting fans are there. They should be respected for their values, their passion and their heritage”. Asked if he had considered cancelling the event, he said: “Why should we stop what is a traditional event? For what reason? We are within the law. Where is democracy? We will have to stop everything (that one side opposes) if we continue along these lines.”
Further heightening the tensions Midi Libre reported October 22 that official police inquiries into the 2011 clashes had been completed and forwarded to Laure Beccuau, the procureur or prosecutor at Nimes. This highly sensitive report was welcomed by Jean-Pierre Garrigues whose group Crac is coordinating the latest protests in Rodilhan. “At this time we don’t know if all the evidence gathered will lead to any criminal prosecution nor how many defendants can be expected to appear in court, although we expect there should be at least a dozen”, he told Midi Libre. The paper said the looming trial at Nimes criminal court is already unprecedented in terms of both content and its polemical context. Statements by the prosecutor suggest there will be a large number of defendants and the police case rests to a great extent on video recorded by the protesters during the clashes.
The anti-bullfighting coalition reinforced in this instance by international brigades, has distributed what some might consider to be an inflammatory press release ahead of Sunday’s fiesta: “For the first time ever, American animal protection organizations Friends of Animals (FoA) and Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) are heading to France to stop a massacre of bulls on October 27 says Carole Raphaelle Davis, CAPS’ West Coast director and director of European campaigns for FoA.”
US Animal Protection Coalition Rushes to France to Stop a Massacre on Oct. 27
NEW YORK — The Americans are coming. For the first time ever, .
Friends of Animals (FoA) and Companion
Animal Protection Society (CAPS) will join forces with over 1,000 animal rights activists at a bullfighting arena in Rodilhan, a small village in the south of France. A US delegation is flying to France to support Comité Radicalement Anticorrida (CRAC Europe), the French anti-bullfighting organization.
The last time the bullfight was held in Rodilhan, activists were brutalized by bullfighting enthusiasts. Rodilhan’s mayor was filmed assisting in the assault of peaceful demonstrators.
“They need our help,” says Carole Raphaelle Davis, CAPS’ West Coast director and director of European campaigns for FoA. “Not only are they stabbing animals to death but police stand by while ‘afficionados’ beat up peaceful animal rights demonstrators who are there to stop a massacre. We are coming to march with CRAC Europe against this horrific animal abuse.”
Forty California school children have sent letters to the mayor of Rodilhan and the French ambassador in Washington, D.C. pleading them to “cancel the killing.” CAPS and FoA have also launched an American campaign aimed at headquarters of the French tourist board in New York City and French embassy in Washington, D.C. to threaten a boycott of travel to France. France is the number one destination for US tourists with 3 million Americans traveling there every year. Calls and emails have been pouring into both offices.
“Nowhere on the French Tourism website is there any mention of the cruel blood sport of bullfighting,” says Davis. “The French tourism board is obviously hiding this from US travelers. When Americans find out about it, they will be horrified. American’s won’t understand how this can be legal under a special judicial exemption in such a civilized country. US travelers want to see Mona Lisa’s smile and the Eiffel Tower, not gruesome animal abuse.”
On Sunday, October the 27th, matadors and their assistants will taunt and kill a series of bulls and calves throughout the day in Rodilhan’s bullfighting arena. The chief of police of Nîmes, the town that has jurisdiction over the village of Rodilhan, has stated that police will arrest any protesters who cross a police barricade 400 meters from the arena and face a fine of 76,000 euros.
The bullfighting “aficionados” are using social media sites to threaten violence against animal rights demonstrators. The protesters will be tweeting LIVE from Rodilhan using the hashtag #Rodilhanmassacre.
“To call the sadistic performance of French matadors who inflict pain and death on confined, weakened bulls and calves a cultural event is mind-blowing to humanitarians in the United States,” said Edita Birnkrant, NY director for FoA.
“France shouldn’t benefit from tourists who travel to enjoy a more refined, civilized culture,” said Birnkrant, “and my presence at this protest in France represents millions more Americans who will refuse tourism to France until this animal torture grotesquely labeled as ‘art’ is officially banned.”
- The Huffington Post: Berets, Baguettes and Brutal Blood Sport: Welcome to France!
- CAPS Action Alert: CANCEL THE KILLING onOct 27 in Rodilhan, France!
As French News Online has reported previously, bullfighting is defended in southern parts of France as part of the region’s long standing heritage. Indeed anyone who has driven around small towns and villages in Languedoc, Gard and Provence will find extensive evidence of the influence and importance of bullfighting. Road signs warn of bullfights ahead, highly prized stock breeders supply animals for the performances, touring bullrings and permanent rings in dozens of tiny villages all attest to the economic vibrancy of what Hemingway regarded as an art form as we reported here. However a tide of vociferous activism is moving in Europe seeking to ban the bullfight in southern France, Spain and Portugal.
Story: Ken Pottinger
Defenders of bullfighting in the region have launched their own Facebook page with a claimed 7000 supporters all of whom are being urged to descend on Rodilhan on Sunday in a show of strength against the opponents of the corrida.
The Anti Anti-Corrida page has put up the video below, originally filmed in Bayonne on the south-western border, in defence of the longstanding bullfighting traditions of southern France and the Iberian peninsula:
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