Edelstein: Polish shechita ban 'unthinkable' restriction of religious freedom

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein sends astounded letter to Polish counterpart, says decision denies basic minority rights.

July 14, 2013 18:59
1 minute read.
shechita ritual

DO NOT USE shechita ritual_311. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Vosizneias.com)

Poland’s ban on kosher slaughter is appalling, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote to his Polish counterpart, Marshal of the Sejm Ewa Kopacz, on Sunday.

“The lamentable decision taken by your parliament last week to reject the law makes one wonder how a democratic country like modern-day Poland in 2013 Europe can deny basic rights of minorities such as Jews and Muslims,” Edelstein wrote.

Last week, the Polish parliament shot down a government- sponsored bill meant to legalize shechita, or ritual slaughter, in a vote of 222 to 178. A ban on shechita went into effect in January.

“As speaker of the Knesset, the parliament of the Jewish State of Israel, I raise my voice in protest at this action by the Polish parliament,” Edelstein added. “I do not know what steps can now be taken to remedy the current legal situation, but I hope you agree that it is unthinkable that Jews should once again face serious restrictions on their freedom of religious practice, which arouses a painful sense of prejudice and discrimination.”

The Knesset speaker said Poland is morally obligated to change the policy, which sends a negative message to the rest of Europe.

Until January, Poland was one of the largest exporters of kosher meat to Israel and a few Muslim countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Iran.

Poland’s revenue from kosher-meat exports were estimated at half a billion euro per year.

In 2012, Poland’s supreme court ruled that an exemption for religious Muslims and Jews in a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter was “unconstitutional.”

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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