According to the warning, Jews and Muslims carry out "unauthorized sacrifices" of the animals as they prepare to mark the festivals of Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha.
While animal sacrifices have long been outlawed in Judaism, the tradition of Kaparot, usually practiced by members of the ultra-Orthodox denomination before Yom Kippur, has attracted widespread disapproval by less conservative-minded Jews, who argue that the action of elevating a chicken above one’s head is a cruel act that causes distress to the animal.
During Eid al-Adha, also known as the "Sacrifice Feast,” some Muslims, much to the distaste of animal rights activists, sacrifice sheep and lambs before the meal.
Members of the Jewish community of France rushed to protest the police warning, arguing that it was fallacious and could spur anti-Semitism.
The President of the Jewish community organization Consistoire voiced his official objections to the police’s caution, saying in an interview with the newspaper “La Croix” that he was shocked that “suddenly, they indiscriminately turned all Jews into potential chicken thieves.”
Francis Kalifat, the French businessman and philanthropist who presides over the leadership of the CRIF—an organization representing French Jewry—also heaped criticism on what he argued was an apparent attempt to draw parallels between Jews and Muslims.
Kalifat slammed this “recurring tactic” employed by the authorities to make Muslims and Jews synonymous with one another in order to repel accusations of Islamophobia.
Due to the anger-filled reactions which were also manifested in demonstrations, a spokesperson from the department of internal security in France rushed to restore calm, insisting that there was no intention to cause harm or offense, but rather to encourage “awareness.”
According to reports in Le Parisien, in the last few years, numerous lambs were stolen as the festival of Eid al-Adha approached, but noted that Muslims were not the likely culprits.
The report also reminded readers that Roma traders had once sold sheep ahead Eid al-Adha for around half their market value. It did not, however, mention any examples of not offer a report of any theft of chickens before the Jewish holidays.
Rabbis against Kapora
In recent years, rabbis and religious officials in Israel have publicly stated their opposition to the custom, citing the distress it can inflict on the chicken.
Rabbi David Lau, after becoming Israel’s chief rabbi, published his call “to prevent unnecessary suffering and pain to animals,” reminding people wishing to repent for their sins that they must do so through their hearts rather than through chickens.
Last year, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) financed a campaign dubbed ‘the chicken rebellion” in which people practicing the custom were called upon to substitute the chickens for bags of money.