NY: Independent Film Focuses on Halal Butcher


FOR A SMALL SLAUGHTERHOUSE, A DASH OF LOCAL GLORY

About a dozen speckled Plymouth Rock hens sat at the front of the poultry section. They and their neighbors ­ hundreds of Rhode Island hens, Muscovy drakes and other fowl ­ warbled quietly in their pens. Lambs and goats munched alfalfa grass in a roomier wing next door.

These were their last moments. All these creatures had arrived from farms and had taken up temporary residence at the Madani Halal slaughterhouse on 94th Avenue near 100th Street in Ozone Park, Queens. An occasional feather drifted to the concrete floor, and a stillness pervaded the air.

“According to my Koran, animals have no voice,” said Riaz Uddin, a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant who started the slaughterhouse a decade ago. “But you treat them like you treat yourself.”

Four years ago, Mr. Uddin passed the business on to his son, Imran Uddin, a 29-year-old practicing Muslim who at first glance seems an unlikely halal slaughterman. Stocky with a fashionable shadow of a beard, the son wears a Bluetooth device clipped to his ear and a handset attached to the waist of his khaki cargo pants. He studied communications at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and worked at a Manhattan advertising firm, but he has been quick to embrace his father’s ethos.

“Halal starts at the moment a chicken hatches from its egg,” Imran Uddin said before rattling off a list of how the animals should be treated. Just before the lambs and goats die, he added, some of them are given water. “It helps calm them down,” he said.

Madani is one of roughly 80 state-regulated small-scale slaughterhouses and live markets in the city, but thanks to a recent star turn on film it is poised to become one of the best known. A documentary film about the slaughterhouse, titled “A Son’s Sacrifice” and focusing on Imran’s return to an insular Muslim world, will have its final showing this afternoon in the Tribeca Film Festival. The film, which won the festival’s best documentary short film award on Thursday, will be seen on the PBS program “Independent Lens” on Channel 13 later this year or early next year. But Madani’s name is already familiar to his customers, many of them immigrants who want to buy live animals and see them slaughtered in keeping with Muslim traditions followed in their homelands.

 


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