Belgian court questions ban on Jewish ritual slaughter

The Belgian court decided that it needs to check whether the bans on religious slaughter are compatible with European law.

By
April 5, 2019 05:23
1 minute read.
A slaughterer transports beef carcasses at the Biernacki Meat Plant slaughterhouse in Golina near Ja

A slaughterer transports beef carcasses at the Biernacki Meat Plant slaughterhouse in Golina near Jarocin, western Poland July 17, 2013. The abattoir in this small town in western Poland has a special dormitory to house the more than 30 Jewish men designated by Israel's chief rabbi to oversee the pr. (photo credit: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL)

Belgium’s Constitutional Court questioned on Thursday the legality of the ban on religious slaughter passed in 2017 by the parliaments of Flanders and Wallonia.
 
Practically speaking, the court’s decision is an interim one, which shows it is seriously considering the legal challenge, but has not reached a final decision – a result that disappointed Jewish groups who had hoped to erase the law from the record books.
 
Following the passing of the law, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) filed a lawsuit against the ban with support from The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund that files legal cases against anti-Jewish discrimination around the world.
 
The Belgian court decided on Thursday that it needs to check whether the bans on religious slaughter are compatible with European law.
 
According to those suing to strike the law, European legislation allows for religious slaughter as an exception to the rule of prior stunning, provided that religious slaughter is operated in an approved slaughterhouse.
 
CCOJB and The Lawfare Project “maintain that while the ban was implemented with the stated purpose of animal welfare, that argument is flawed because animal welfare has always been central to the laws of kosher practice.”
 
“I regret that the Constitutional Court has not already annulled these decrees on the basis of our fundamental principles,” said CCOJB president Yohan Benizri, while noting that the court was taking his arguments seriously.
 
He said that the law “raises a serious question of compatibility with European law. The battle will continue in Luxembourg.”
 
“It is disappointing that the Constitutional Court hasn’t put a stop to this assault on religious freedom in Belgium,” said Brooke
Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project. “The ban on religious slaughter is a shameful and vindictive act towards minority communities. If allowed to stand it has appalling implications for Jewish communities in Belgium and beyond... We will never let attacks on the rights of Jews and other minorities to practice their religion go unchallenged.”


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