Brussels / Berlin (AP) - The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, sees in view of a new law in Belgium, the religious freedom across Europe threatened.
"The ban on the anesthetic slaughter, which is now also in force in Wallonia, is another sign that religious freedom is under attack throughout Europe," said Schuster the German Press Agency in Brussels. He hopes that the European Court of Justice will lift the ban and "give proper consideration" to religious freedom in its judgment.
The new law will come into effect next Sunday (1 September) in the French-speaking part of Belgium. It provides that animals can no longer be slaughtered without prior anesthesia. In the northern part of Belgium, in Flanders, a similar law has been in force since the beginning of 2019. Ritual slaughter without stunning is practiced according to religious rules in both Islam and Judaism.
Following a complaint by the Jewish community in Belgium against the law in Flanders, the Constitutional Court appealed to the ECJ. Its verdict is expected to come in a few months and send a signal across Europe. Slaughter without stunning is currently banned in other EU countries such as Sweden or Denmark. In Germany, exceptions can be granted for religious reasons.
The chairman of the European Jewish Congress, Menachem Margolin, sees a devastating signal in the Belgian laws: "This is a strong message that the Jewish community is not really welcome," he told the dpa. In addition, the laws restricted religious freedom.
The chairman of the Belgian animal welfare organization Gaia, Michel Vandenbosch, contradicts. He emphasizes that it is not about interfering with religious freedom, but about animal welfare. The reaction of some religious leaders was exaggerated. The laws were passed in democratic processes with a large majority and votes from all parties. "This is not a law that prohibits ritual slaughter, but only slaughter without prior anesthesia," Vandenbosch said.
The discussion about the manhole has been going on for years. According to the German Federal Center for Nutrition, a "consensual assessment" is not in sight. "From a veterinary point of view, anesthesia before slaughter is indispensable to prevent possible fears of death and pain during bleeding."
Federal Center for Nutrition for Halal Slaughter