Polish government ombudsman Prof. Irena Lipowicz on Wednesday came out against her nation’s ban on ritual slaughter, according to a report by the Brussels-based European Jewish Association.
Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter, which must be performed without prior stunning, have been forbidden in Poland since last January.
According to the EJA, Lipowicz approached Prime Minister Donald Tusk with her legal assessment, indicating that the current legal framework regulating slaughter is untenable and that new legislation regarding the issue must be promulgated.
Her words were immediately praised by the Jewish body, whose president, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, insisted that the ban was “introduced in violation of the existing law in Poland.”
“I hope that the Polish government will react quickly and prepare appropriate solutions, which should not limit the rights of Jews to profess and practice their religion,” Margolin said.
Poland’s Constitutional Court is currently deliberating the issue, after the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, a communal representative body, challenged the law.
A previous attempt by the ruling administration, to introduce legislation legalizing the practice, fell flat when its bill was rejected by the Sejm, Poland’s parliament.
While the EJA pursued remediation through an attempt to overturn Poland’s law on a European level, asserting that the ban contravenes EU regulations concerning slaughter, the local Jewish community stuck with their legal strategy by way of the local courts.
The Polish government, as well as Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, have rejected the EJA argument as having insufficient legal basis.
Calling her statement “another step in our struggle for religious freedom and struggle that is supported by many Poles and many government officials,” Schudrich praised Lipowicz.
Her decision to oppose the ban was “the result of our quiet but persistent and ongoing work with our Polish authorities,” he said.
While the ombudsman’s comments do carry weight with the constitutional tribunal, there are still three other government bodies that will present their views to the court and “the tribunal can do whatever it feels like anyway,” one insider familiar with the matter told The Jerusalem Post. “So Lipowicz’s statement is helpful, but not of any great consequence.”
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