Sheep Fighting in Algeria

I recently read an article about sheep fighting in Algeria on The Guardian. In Algeria, bored young men who grew up in the shadow of war turn their time to the spectacle of sheep fighting. This is implicitly condoned by a lack of action by the government, which would probably rather these young men not get interested in politics instead. Just imagine all the pent-up energy cheering for the sheep favourite directed towards supporting someone who isn’t Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria since 1999. Anyway, these young men, mostly unmarried and in their 20s and 30s, raise lambs who grow up to be violent, mean, and, most appallingly, naked.

Two naked sheep fight each other… in Germany. Sheep in Algeria do the same albeit with a dustier background. Image: Dirk Ingo Franke / Wikimedia Commons

Fighting sheep are selected at a young age by choosing the belligerent and quick— and shock-resistant, given sheep fighting consists of butting heads over and over. These lambs are given exciting, fearsome names like Hitler, Rambo, or Lawyer. Other names include Saddam or Jaws. At the age of 3, the sheep are ready to be decorated like racing cars (but using henna and not whatever cars use) and sent off to fight in rings of men who do not really know how to stand still and hold the shape of a circle consistently. Sheep grow in value as they win more fights. At a dozen wins, they are considered champions!

Also, the losers are eaten.

Clearly, this sheep fighting is one of the ways poor sheep are oppressed. They are groomed from youth to be mean and dangerous. Then, upon reaching a sheepish age of majority, not only are they forced to fight, but they are forced to fight without clothes. (There is some strange trend of having one-on-one fights where the two combatants wear minimal clothes in general, actually. Look at sumo wrestlers.) Then, after a short, action-filled and admittedly exciting life, they get to be eaten for failing even once!

If Algerian sheep wore clothes, I am sure Algerian humans would think twice about forcing sheep to fight naked.

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