One country has banned kosher and halal slaughter due to the treatment of the animals, but some critics believe the decision violates freedom of religion. The northern Belgian region of Flanders is the first in Belgium to implement the ban, which requires that animals be stunned before they’re killed. The southern region of Wallonia followed Flanders’ lead and implemented the ban as well.
The European Jewish Congress was outraged by the proposal, calling it “the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation.”
To better understand the current process, both Muslim halal and Jewish kosher rituals of slaughter require butchers to slit the animal’s throat and drain its blood. The new law requires that the animals be stunned electricity before being killed. Animal rights organizations believe this is a more humane process than the halal and kosher rituals.
In response to the law, Belgium’s Muslim and Jewish communities are up in arms, noting that halal and kosher requires the animal to be in “perfect health” when its throat is cut. They believe that stunning the animal first would tarnish that health.
Rabbi Yaakov David Schmahl, a rabbi in Antwerp, the capital of Flanders, explained to the New York Times that the law is also about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Schmahl noted: “It is impossible to know the true intentions of people.”
Rabbi Schmahl continued: “Unless people state clearly what they have in mind, but most anti-Semites don’t do that. It definitely brings to mind similar situations before the Second World War, when these laws were introduced in Germany.”
In January 2018, the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress filed lawsuits to stop this legislation. Their lawsuit explains that the European Court of Human Rights had described kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion.”
They argue that the law violates freedom of religion under EU law.
A number of countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and New Zealand already prohibit un-stunned slaughter.
Among the many people who weighed in with comments on the Daily Mail’s coverage of the story were those who agreed with the ban, with one person noting: “Humanity before religious ideals. If you have to eat it at least let it die without suffering.”
Another person agreed, noting: “In today’s world of 2019, the manner in which any animal is slaughtered should have nothing to do with religion, ancient customs, or gratuitous brutality. Britain should stand firmly with Belgium, and every other country who have put into law, IT IS most definitely compulsory to stun every animal before it is slaughtered.”
Among those who commented on social media about the requirement to stun animals before slaughter was one person who agreed with the ban, noting: “If it is cruel and causes suffering to the animals, it should be banned.”
When another person noted: “All slaughter is cruel and causes suffering to animals, so it should be banned,” the original commenter explained: “agree but take one step at a time starting with the cruelest one.”
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