The Conference of European Rabbis castigated the Danish government over its recent ban on kosher slaughter, calling it a cover for the country’s shortcomings in dealing with animal rights issues.
Denmark banned Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter on the orders of Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen last month. Importation of kosher and hallal meat is still legal.
Until recently shechita, Jewish ritual slaughter, was legal in Denmark, yet the small Jewish community preferred to import meat. In a statement to the media on Thursday, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, CER president, wrote that since the Jewish community does not perform such slaughter in Denmark, the law must have a secondary impetus aside from the minister’s stated reasons.
“We can only assume that the ban represents a fig leaf intended to cover the country’s woeful record on animal welfare,” Goldschmidt wrote.
“It seems so clear that this is a country with a great deal of work to do in this area, yet all they have succeeded in doing thus far is offending faith communities.”
The rabbi referred to the recent outrage surrounding the killing of a healthy giraffe and four lions at a Copenhagen zoo.
He said that “as the media continues to report stories about perfectly healthy animals being slaughtered for no good reason, it becomes ever more apparent that this is less about animal welfare and much more about the politics of immigration and integration.”
The CER accused Denmark of maintaining a “poor record” on animal-welfare issues, especially regarding “the welfare of pigs at the point of slaughter.”
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the United Kingdom (PETA UK), Denmark’s military sometimes uses live pigs for target practice, in order to simulate wounds that may be encountered in battle.
“During these exercises, animals may be shot by a firing squad with high-velocity bullets, stabbed, dismembered and sometimes sewn back together,” the animal-rights organization wrote on its website.
During a recent meeting with a joint Jewish-Muslim delegation, Jørgensen denied having made the statement that “animal rights come before religion,” which was attributed to him by Danish media as his rationale for the ban.
During a speech earlier this week, to members of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar accused opponents of ritual slaughter of being anti-Semites who “are trying to fight Judaism.”
The banning of ritual slaughter while allowing hunting to remain legal is hypocritical, Danish Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Loewenthal told The Jerusalem Post during the gathering in Budapest at which Lazar spoke.