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Spain bullfighting: Thousands rally in Madrid to demand ban

A woman holds up a banner reading in Spanish: "Put yourself in its place" as she protests with others against bullfighting in Madrid

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AP

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Woman holds banner which reads “Put yourself in its place”

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Madrid to demand an end to the controversial tradition of bullfighting.

Protesters held up banners saying “Bullfighting, the school of cruelty” and “Bullfighting, a national shame”.

The number of bullfights is falling in Spain, but some 2,000 events are still held every year.

In June, the government of Castilla y Leon banned the killing of bulls at town festivals.

The move targeted the controversial Toro de la Vega festival, in Tordesillas, where horsemen chase a bull before spearing it.

‘National shame’

Chelo Martin Pozo travelled from Seville to Madrid to join the demonstration.

“Bulls feel and they suffer,” the 39-year-old said. “Bullfights are a national shame”.

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AFP

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Opponents say the practice amounts to torture

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Reuters

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Animal rights activists held black neckties at the start of the rally

Madrid resident Azucena Perez said: “I think our laws should prohibit the torture of animals as a form of entertainment.”

Recent opinion polls suggest public support for bullfighting has waned, but annual events, such as Pamplona’s San Fermin, are still followed by a loyal crowd and many tourists.

Divisive issue

Supporters of bullfighting, known as “aficionados”, say the tradition is an ancient art form deeply rooted in national history. Among them is Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Fans have also organised demonstrations in favour of the tradition, attracting thousands of people.

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Reuters

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This banner says: “Torture, neither art, nor culture”

But opponents describe the pageants as barbaric.

In 2010, Catalonia became the second Spanish region after the Canary Islands to ban the tradition.

And Madrid’s leftist mayor, who took over last year, has withdrawn subsidies for bullfighting schools.

A bullfighter died in July after being gored, the first matador to die in the ring in the country for more than 30 years.

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