Urgent conference on religious slaughter to be held by European Commission

In a document that the participants received, obtained by the Post, the European Commission elaborated that it "is committed to ensuring freedom of religion or belief in the EU.

 EU flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR/FILE PHOTO)
EU flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
(photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR/FILE PHOTO)

The European Commission (EC) will hold an urgent conference on Thursday about religious slaughter titled “Freedom of religion with regard to religious slaughter,” The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The participants were asked to keep a low profile and not speak of the event before it happens in Brussels. The conference will be held in partnership with the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN, according to an EC website. Commissioner for Equality of the EC, Helena Dalli, will deliver the opening remarks.

“The conference will bring together representatives of European Union (EU) Member States and other national authorities, special envoys and coordinators on combating antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, representatives of national Jewish, Muslim and other religious communities, international organizations and independent experts,” reads the site.

In a document that participants received, obtained by the Post, The European Commission elaborated that it “is committed to ensuring freedom of religion or belief in the EU, including the rights for minority groups to express their religion through specific cultural, traditional and religious practices in line with the Charter on Fundamental Rights.”

"The conference will bring together representatives of the European Union (EU) Member States and other national authorities, special envoys and coordinators on combating antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, representatives of national Jewish, Muslim and other religious communities, international organizations and independent experts."

European Commission site

It was added that “recently, Muslim and Jewish communities have been expressing their rising concern about shrinking space for their freedom to practice their respective religions in Europe, in light of bans or discussions about possible bans of slaughter based on religious tradition.”

 EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Parliament in Brussels last week for a special session to debate the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS) EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Parliament in Brussels last week for a special session to debate the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

In its judgment in December 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU acknowledged that Council Regulation 1099/2009 allows to “strike a fair balance between the protection of the welfare of animals when they are killed and, on the other, respect for the freedom to manifest religion.” The commission explained in the document that “EU Member States may adopt different rules based on the domestic context.”

The event will be hosted by Katharina von Schnurbein, Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life of the European Commission, who will open and close the event.

Who are the participants?

The participants include Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating antisemitism, Miguel Moratinos, High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Nicola Beer, European Parliament Vice-President, Special envoy on combating religious discrimination, Judge Mr. Yannis Ktistakis, European Court of Human rights, and Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt.

Goldschmidt said that the conference is “a worthy endeavor,” explaining that “as Jews, we need complete freedom to practice our religion. We must be able to produce kosher meat, educate our children and maintain our traditions and lifestyle. Yet currently, across the continent, these freedoms are under threat. Shechita stands precariously threatened by hostile governments.”

Goldschmidt mentioned that “in Belgium and Finland, for example, Animal Welfare Bills have brashly banned or are on course of outlawing their Jewish communities’ ability to produce their own meat, hindering Jewish life in those countries, and disregarding Jewish religious rights. To be able to live and thrive as Jews in Europe, these rights must be safeguarded in law. Such will be our message to this commendable conference.

Others include human rights experts and Jewish leaders from across the continent, including Atik Ali, Chair of the Human Rights Commission of the National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland, Ariel Muzicant, President of European Jewish Congress, Mohamed Moussaoui, President of the French Council for Muslim Religion,

In addition, a panel with religious leaders from Europe will take place.

Participants will include Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, Imam Salahuddin Barakat from Malmö, Sweden, Khalid Hajji, an expert on inter-religious dialogue and Rabbi Schlomo Elieser Hofmeister, Senior Rabbi of the Austrian Jewish community.