10/26/2012 10:26 EDT | Updated 12/26/2012 05:12 EST

Lamb sacrifices monitored during Muslim celebration

Quebec's Agricultural Ministry is eyeing many farms this weekend as thousands of Muslims take part in traditional lamb sacrifices to celebrate the Eid al-Adha.

The tradition is for Muslims to buy a sheep or lamb and kill it – a symbolic way for people to remember the sacrifice the prophet Abraham made to God as a sign of submission.

The Muslim Canadian Congress said it is pleased with the government's decision to ensure regulations are respected during the religious celebration.

"We don't have any problem with inspectors visiting the farm and we would actually like our meat to come from legal slaughterhouses. It's good for us and it's going to actually benefit us as a community," said Roksana Nazneen, a board member at the MCC.

On Friday, Mayor of Mont-Saint-Grégoire Suzanne Boulais, a town about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, also kept a close eye on a nearby farm.

"I have no problem with Muslims slaughtering lambs, but it must be done legally," she said. "This person does not have a permit for a slaughterhouse, and it's not in a zone where the municipality allows it."

Iliario Giugovaz, the owner of the farm in question, has been raising and selling sheep for 30 years and said his business is far from being a slaughterhouse.

"We don't kill anything. We don't touch any animals. We touch nothing," he said. "Look at that sheep, did I kill it?"

After this weekend, inspectors will submit their reports to a crown prosecutor who will decide if anyone will be charged for running illegal slaughterhouses.

Fines for such charges can cost between $5,000 and $15,000. A second offence could cost someone up to $45,000.

In the last five years, nine people have been charged with operating illegal abattoirs.