Citing resistance by Muslims to a compromise on ritual slaughter of animals, a Belgian cabinet minister called for a blanket ban on the custom, a policy that would affect observant Jews and Muslims.
Ben Weyts, animal welfare minister in the government of the Flemish Region - one of three entities that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium - on Tuesday told Radio 1 that it had become necessary to outlaw in the region any slaughter of animals who have not been stunned prior to the act.
“Organizations within the Muslim community are just not open to any sort of compromise,” said Weyts, who is a member of the New Flemish Alliance, a center-right movement that the Flemish Region’s ruling party.
Religious laws in Islam and Judaism require animals be conscious when their necks are slit, though some religious leaders from both faiths allow stunning immediately after the cut.
Despite Weyts’s statement, Michael Freilich, the editor-in-chief of the Antwerp-based Joods Actueel Jewish monthly, told JTA that he foresees no ban in the near future, citing internal divisions on this subject within Weyts’s party and others.
As with non-medical circumcision of boys, ritual slaughter of animals, or shechita, is facing opposition across Western Europe by far-right politicians who view it as a foreign element to their culture and by liberals who believe it is inhumane.