SOUTH BRUNSWICK -- An unidentified Islamic group sacrificed goats as part of a religious ritual Friday morning.
Nearly 100 people from the group were reportedly sacrificing goats on Dey Road near Dey Farms as part of the Eid-Ul-Adha holiday, according to one person in attendance who declined to be identified.
"This is part of a religious holiday, part of which requires an animal sacrifice," said a young male in attendance who declined give his name.
Police were called to the scene by a passing motorist, with intial reports indicating a connection to the occult.
"There is a large penned area with goats inside where people are apparently chasing the goats around with a stick before bringing them around to be slaughtered," said police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "We're still sorting things out, but it appears to be some kind of religious ceremony."
Sgt. Ryan said the group obtained a permit from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to perform the ceremony. The ASPCA told police that if a permit had been obtained then the group was allowed to perform the ritual. Police said the group is not connected to the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
"We're working with the Department of Agriculture to determine if this type of activity is allowed," Sgt. Ryan said.
Eid-Ul-Adha, also known as the "Festival of Sacrifice," commemorates Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God, before God intervenes and gives him a ram (sheep) to sacrifice in Ishmael's place, according to www.whyislam.org.
The holiday is one of two major festivals celebrated by over one billion Muslims worldwide. The holiday involves Muslims offering special prayers and sacrificing animals, whose meat is then distributed to the poor and the needy, according to www.whyislam.org.
Sgt. Ryan said the group had performed the ritual at the location on Dey Road for the previous three years. The ritual involves people paying to kill a goat before bringing it home to be prepared in a certain way. It was not immediately clear how many goats were slaughtered.