Lebanon News

Microwaved cat video prompts outrage, calls for animal rights law

This YouTube grab shows a man microwaving a cat. (The Daily Star/YouTube grab)

BEIRUT: A video of a Lebanese man microwaving his cat that was circulated via social media Friday sparked outrage and calls for drafting legislation criminalizing animal cruelty. The minute-long footage shows a man, who is called Hasan Hammoud by his companion, who is filming, putting his cat in the microwave twice. From what can be seen in the video, the cat survived the incident. The video was posted to the Facebook page of Mohammad Jallad.

“Here is the criminal Hasan Hammoud imprisoning a cat in the microwave and warming it,” the person videotaping the incident said in jest as the two burst into laughter.

Michelle Matta, Animals Lebanon office manager, said that in the absence of a law to protect animals, there was little the organization could do to help pets tortured by their owners. She said that the organization had seen the video and was mulling over what action to take.

“The only thing we can legally do is to talk to the guardian and try to convince him that what he did is bad and to give us the animal, but he has the right to bring the police and kick us out,” Matta said. She said that past attempts at intervention have ended badly.

Animals Lebanon has finalized an animal welfare draft law that was written in coordination with the Agriculture Ministry.

“We are waiting for the new government to be formed to present it with the draft law,” she said.

Once the government approves the draft law, it would refer it to Parliament for endorsement.

Any violator of the 20-article draft law would have to pay a fine ranging between LL3 million and LL20 million, depending on the violation, Matta said.

“If he repeats the same violation, he will be handed a prison-sentence ranging from three months to two years,” she said.

Ketty Sarouphim, an associate professor of psychology at the Lebanese American University, said that animal cruelty is an indication of violent tendencies in people who are usually capable of worse deeds.

“This is an alarming sign,” she told The Daily Star. “It could be a sign of anti-social personality disorder, which is the disorder of a serial killer. These people show no sense of guilt when a wrong is committed.”

Sarouphim called on social media managers to remove the footage, saying it could prompt viewers to commit similar acts against animals.

“There could be others who will repeat the behavior with other animals and put it on YouTube ... this person is preaching or giving instructions on how to harm animals. In psychology, we know that violence leads to violence,” she said.

Sarouphim added that whatever the motivation was for such an act, cruelty against animals indicated that there was something unwell about this person.

“Human beings are predisposed to safeguard life rather than destroy it,” she said. “We should find out why this person is doing this, most probably this person needs therapy.”

Lebanese pop star Myriam Klink is an avid animal lover and staunch supporter of animal rights. Shortly after the video went viral, she posted a picture to Facebook of herself, posing in her signature pink and white, holding what appears to be a kalashnikov as she stands next to her pet donkey and dog. Under the photo, she wrote a message threatening to kill anyone who harms animals.

Klink told The Daily Star she was shocked by the video and promised to pressure Lebanese officials to work on arresting the man and drafting a law to protect animals.

“I am not going to shut up,” she vowed. “It’s terrible. I will meet ministers and MPs and appear on TV over this case.”

“This person should be arrested. It is a crime, he should go to prison,” Klink added. “I am sure one day he will kill someone.”

Klink stressed the need for a law to protect animals against such violence:

“We do not have any respect for animals, for human beings and for nature.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 09, 2013, on page 3.

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