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'Polish court rules against ritual slaughter'
By JTA
11/28/2012
Warsaw court reportedly rules against Jewish and Muslim exemption from stunning animals before slaughtering them.
 
A constitutional court in Poland reportedly has ruled against allowing Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter in the country.

The Warsaw court’s ruling, which was made known on Tuesday, said the government had acted unconstitutionally when it exempted Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them as their faiths require, according to Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.

Kadlcik told JTA that in addition to the special exception announced by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, is permissible under the 1997 Law on Regulating the Relations between the State and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.

“It appears there is a legal contradiction here and it is too early to tell what this means,” he said. "We are seeking legal advice on this right now."

The ruling, according to AFP, enters into force on January 1, the same day that a European Union directive on ritual slaughter sets it. The directive sets common rules for the production of kosher and halal meat across the 27-nation bloc but allows individual countries discretion on whether to apply these rules.

Poland's chief prosecutor turned to the Constitutional Court in June at the behest of animal rights groups, AFP reported.

Poland has approximately 6,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Kadlcik said kosher meat is served at kosher canteens across the country.

“I’m not sure we will be able to keep serving meat there,” he said.

According to AFP, Poland is home to two dozen slaughterhouses that specialize in kosher and halal slaughter, with the value of last year's exports estimated at $259 million.
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