Prohibition of bullfighting: "The bullfights feel the wind of the cannonball whistling closer and closer"according to Thierry Hely

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The bill aimed at banning bullfights could be put to the vote of the Assembly on 24th November next. A day already historic for Thierry Hély, president of the Federation of struggles for the abolition of bullfights (FLAC), which counts in its committee of honor, Aymeric Caron.

What do you think of the upcoming debate on the abolition of bullfighting in France?

We can only rejoice! This is historic for our fight. This is the first time that the question of banning bullfighting could be debated in the Assembly. It’s already a small victory to have come to this. And we feel that the taurines are panicked because they feel the wind whistling closer and closer. But we do not cry victory for all that.

How do you respond to those who explain that this bill is a step towards banning bullfighting as a whole?

Contrary to what they claim, whether in France or in Catalonia, after the abolition of bullfights, no bullfighting city or region has attacked all other forms of bullfighting, hunting or any practice generating of animal suffering.

A majority of French people are against bullfighting but this has never resulted in a ban…

For years, there has been such a lobby, including deputies from the bullfighting departments, which has made any progress impossible. They have always done their best to block everything. But nowadays, the issue of animal welfare is more important. The period is favorable and conducive to change. Parliamentarians have often avoided the issue for fear of the consequences. But all the towns in France that have suppressed bullfights have never seen the slightest disturbance.

And the French who consider bullfighting as a local heritage have no legitimacy in wanting to preserve this tradition?

We have nothing against traditions, quite the contrary! They can take positive forms but not be imbued with cruelty. Cruel traditions are disappearing and that’s normal. People are not always aware of the extent of animal suffering around bullfighting. The only motivation of aficionados is pleasure and they put it before animal suffering which is unacceptable. When they say they love bulls, they actually love the object of their passion. Something we love, we don’t torture.

Wouldn’t a ban lead to the collapse of an entire economic sector?

People come for the parties and very few for the bullfighting in reality. What is economically vital is the feria. Of the thousands of people who go to Nîmes, Béziers or Arles, only 4% go to the arenas. It’s tiny. And the example of Carcassonne is the proof that one can organize a feria without bullfighting there has been no economic damage.

Thierry Hely

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