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EU Court of Justice: possible to ban halal and kosher slaughter

Animal activists rejoice, but for Israeli government it is a "harsh message to all Judaism"

In order to promote animal welfare in the context of ritual slaughter, Member States may, without infringing the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter, impose a preliminary reversible stunning process, which is not likely to result in the death of the animal. The EU Court of Justice thus ruled that member states can prohibit halal and kosher slaughter, considering legitimate a law of the region of Flanders (Belgium) which had established not to kill animals without first stunning them. The two rites, in fact, involve cutting the throat of animals when they are still conscious. According to the court, laws prohibiting these practices are not to be considered violations of religious freedom. The Belgian law allows "a fair balance between the importance of animal welfare and the freedom of the Jewish and Muslim faithful to live their own religion", explain the judges. The religious associations were disappointed, but also the Israeli Foreign Ministry immediately condemned the measure, which "in fact today confirmed the ban on kosher slaughter in Belgium", calling it "a harsh message to all European Judaism". "In addition to the fact that this decision affects freedom of worship and religion in Europe, a fundamental value of the EU, it also signals to the Jewish communities - underlined the ministry - that the Jewish lifestyle is undesirable in Europe".

The reactions of animal welfare associations were positive. The decision “confirms a position of the company which aims to avoid as much as possible further suffering to animals even during slaughter. The result also underlines that religious freedom can be combined and animal suffering avoided”, commented Gianluca Felicetti , president of the Lav. According to Ciwf Italia Onlus, "yesterday's sentence is a historic sentence: slaughtering without stunning causes great suffering to animals and we hope that the EU, also with the support of our government, will soon put an end to this practice by introducing the stunning is mandatory, just as the increasing sensitivity of citizens to animal suffering requires".

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EFA News - European Food Agency