- Flanders, northern Belgium, bans un-stunned halal and kosher slaughter
- Animals must now be stunned before their throats are cut in religious ritual
- Jewish and Muslim groups say it violates EU law of freedom of religion
Belgium’s Muslim and Jewish communities have expressed their opposition to the law, saying halal and kosher requires the animal to be in ‘perfect health’ when its throat is cut – which would rule out stunning the animal first.
Some say that the ban is less about animal rights, and more about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
A Belgian region has banned halal and kosher slaughter unless the animal is stunned before it is killed, despite critics saying it violates freedom of religion.
The northern region of Flanders is the first in Belgium to implement the ban, followed by the southern region of Wallonia in September.
When proposed, the law was slammed as ‘the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation’ by the European Jewish Congress.
Both the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher rituals require that butchers slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining the blood.
Under the new law, animals will have to be stunned electrically before being killed, which most animal rights campaigners say is more humane than the halal and kosher rituals.
‘It is impossible to know the true intentions of people,’ Rabbi Yaakov David Schmahl, a rabbi in Antwerp, the capital of Flanders, told the New York Times.
‘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,’ he said.
In January 2018, several religious organisations filed lawsuits to stop the new legislation, including one jointly filed by the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress.
The European Court of Human Rights has previously described kosher slaughter as ‘an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion’, their lawsuit notes
They hope the lawsuits will see the ban, which they argue violates freedom of religion under EU law, lifted later this year.
Several countries including Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand already prohibit un-stunned slaughter.