Belgium bans halal and kosher slaughter methods

Belgium bans halal and kosher slaughter methods which see animals killed without being stunned first

  • Flanders, northern Belgium, bans un-stunned halal and kosher slaughter 
  • Animals must now be stunned before their throats are cut in religious ritual
  • Jewish and Muslim groups say it violates EU law of freedom of religion

A Belgian region has banned halal and kosher slaughter unless the animal is stunned before it is killed, despite critics saying it violates freedom of religion.

The northern region of Flanders is the first in Belgium to implement the ban, followed by the southern region of Wallonia in September. 

When proposed, the law was slammed as ‘the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation’ by the European Jewish Congress.

Ban: Halal and kosher slaughter without first stunning the animal is now banned in Flanders in Belgium, with Wallonia to follow in September (file photo)

Both the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher rituals require that butchers slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining the blood.

Under the new law, animals will have to be stunned electrically before being killed, which most animal rights campaigners say is more humane than the halal and kosher rituals.  

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Belgium’s Muslim and Jewish communities have expressed their opposition to the law, saying halal and kosher requires the animal to be in ‘perfect health’ when its throat is cut – which would rule out stunning the animal first. 

In January 2018, several religious organisations filed lawsuits to stop the new legislation, including the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress.

They hope the lawsuits will see the ban, which they argue violates freedom of religion under EU law, lifted later this year.

Several countries including Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand already prohibit un-stunned slaughter. 

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