Source: European Jewish Press (EJP)
The Director General of the European Jewish Association (EJA) Rabbi Menachem Margolin expressed concern at plans by a minister of the Flemish government to implement a total ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter, insisting such a move “is against freedom of religion”.
Rabbi Margolin spoke out Monday, after Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare Ben Weyts told Belgian Flemish television VRT on Sunday that he would actively pursue a total ban on the practice of animal slaughter without pre-stunning. He made the statement ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, the festival of ritual sacrifice.
During the tv show ‘De Zevende Dag’, the minister called for religious groups to adhere to current legislation which allows animal slaughter without pre-stunning to be carried out only in licensed abattoirs. But he added that further legislation was on the agenda for 2015. Whilst little is known of the substance of this legislation, the cabinet office of his counterpart in the Walloon government, Carlo Di Antonio, indicated it would “take the same shape as that suggested by” the Flemish Minister.
On Sunday, around 7,000 people took part in a march against ritual slaughter without pre-stunning organized by GAIA, an animal rights advocacy group.
Responding to the latest attack on the ancient Jewish ritual, called shechita, Rabbi Margolin emphasized that the Jewish practice is “the most humane method of slaughter”, as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of slaughter, but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter”.
Attacks on Jewish ritual practice, whilst nothing new, he added, “is always a sensitive issue for the Jewish people”.
“As well as being illogical and inconsistent from the perspective of animal rights, labelling kosher meat will give ammunition to anti-Semites to attack Jewish tradition,” Rabbi Margolin emphasized.
During a meeting with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders earlier this month with a European Jewish delegation led by Rabbi Margolin, the minister called on all communities in Belgium to support “a programme aimed at protecting our European values of human rights”.
The fight against anti-Semitism, Reynders said, ‘’will be among the new Belgian government’s foremost priorities.’’
The European Jewish Association has previously campaigned against legislation to restrict the practice of ritual slaughter in Poland and Denmark, and, following Rabbi Margolin’s meetings with European Commissioners, including Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg, the Commission promised to seek clarification on any legislation which proposes to restrict the practice.