(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Jewish community in Belgium has triumphed in its battle for kosher meat, after a court permitted the continuation of shechita (kosher slaughter), the Conference of European Rabbis announced on Wednesday.
The constitutional court of Belgium’s southern Wallonia region announced on Tuesday that shechita is permissible under that country’s law and will continue to be conducted according to Jewish religious law.
The court ruled that “the restriction of kosher slaughter excessively and unreasonably restricts freedom of religion and seriously harms the fundamental laws of human rights and religious rights in Belgium,” the CER said.
The decision comes after several legislators of the parliament of Wallonia last month launched a campaign against shechita. They drafted a bill stating that kosher slaughter should not be exempt from Belgian law that states animals must be stunned before they are killed – a practice which is not permitted according to Jewish law.
Abraham Guigui, the country’s chief rabbi and CER representative, said he was pleased that the court accepted the Jewish community’s position.
“I see this decision as important in the message it conveys to all European countries where there are people who seek to restrict kosher slaughter,” he said.
The issue of shechita has caused controversy in countries all over the world. Having already spent the past 10 years fending off attacks against it and against brit mila (circumcision), the CER’s stated aim is to maintain and defend the religious rights of Jews in Europe.