Dutch Senate delays verdict on ritual slaughter

Decision elicits “relief” from Jews and Muslims, frustration among right-wingers, animal rights activists promoting ban.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters/Jerry Lampen)
Dutch politician Geert Wilders 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters/Jerry Lampen)
THE HAGUE – The Dutch Senate froze its vote on banning ritual slaughter in the Netherlands, eliciting “relief” from Jews and Muslims and frustration among the right-wingers and animal rights activists promoting the ban. The vote, originally scheduled for December 20, may be held in January.
A debate last week in the Senate showed that in its current form, the bill to ban ritual slaughter – which parliament passed in June – has no majority in the Upper House. The casting vote belonged to Dutch Labor’s faction in the Senate, which decided to reject the bill. Labor had supported the same bill in parliament.
All bills passed by parliament must be ratified by the Senate to become law.
The bill requires animals be stunned before the slaughter, rendering both kosher Shechita and Halal slaughter illegal. The bill was submitted by the Party for Animals, which has two seats in parliament, and supported by the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders – the country’s third largest with 24 seats. Noting that senate members were not elected but appointed, Geert Wilders reacted to the debate by saying the Senate should be disbanded.
Before voting in January, the Senate will review a compromise offer by Henk Bleker, state secretary for agriculture. He proposed to limit the time during which a conscious animal is allowed to die. If still alive after that period, stunning would be applied to the animal.
Bleker said he would submit a more detailed proposal in written form in the very near future, but the leader of the Party for Animals, Marianne Thieme, rejected his offer and announced plans to submit a second bill on slaughter to parliament.
The Jewish-Moroccan Network – an organization which represents officials and members of both communities – said it was “pleased and relieved” with regards to the positions of most Senate members.
International Jewish organizations also reacted positively.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said “This is good news, and we hope that an acceptable arrangement can be found.”
Approximately one million animals undergo ritual slaughter in the Netherlands every year. A few thousands of those undergo Shechita.