Belgium bans kosher slaughter, paving way for possible EU ban

Stunning an animal before ritual slaughtering is contrary to Kosher and Halal practices.

A man performs the ancient Jewish ritual of kaparot (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man performs the ancient Jewish ritual of kaparot
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An urgent message was sent to European heads of state by Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog on Wednesday, pleading with them to uphold kosher slaughtering practices.
Recently the European Court of Justice upheld a ban on kosher and halal slaughtering practices passed by the Belgian parliament, which states that first an animal must be stunned before slaughter.
Mainstream Jewish and Muslim authorities do not permit any form of stunning before slaughtering animals for meat. Nevertheless, the court has determined that outlawing the production of meat for those communities is a fair balance between animal rights and the rights of Jews and Muslims.
“Today, my purpose is to alert you to a growing sense of discomfort and rejection among a number of Jewish communities, who feel that the Jewish traditions and religious observance are increasingly challenged by certain parts of European publics and legislators" Herzog wrote in the missive.
Herzog later added that he is “referring to legislation, which bans kosher slaughtering of animals and initiatives to ban by law religious circumcision. These are foundations of Jewish religious practice, and they are non-negotiable aspects of traditional observance.”
There is a fear that since Belgium, a member of the European Union (EU), banned the traditional way of kosher slaughtering that the ban will spread throughout the EU.
In 2017, the Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia regions of Belgium passed laws that prohibited slaughter without pre-stunning, even within the context of religious rites, such as shechita and halal.
Herzog stated that this is reminiscent of pre-World War II Europe when European governments sought to ban Jewish practices, adding that European Jewish communities will soon feel that they are unwelcome in their countries where some communities have existed for "thousands" of years.
Last year, Belgium’s Constitutional Court sent a lawsuit, which was filed by the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB), to the European Union Court of Justice to determine whether the law violates EU regulations.
CCOJB president Yohan Benizri, who is also vice president of the European Jewish Congress, said: “No democracy can exist when its citizens are denied basic human and civil rights. We plan to pursue every legal recourse to right this wrong.”
The missive was sent to many European leaders, including UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the EU's President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyenand President of the European Council Charles Michel.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.