Belgiums Flanders region has banned Jewish and Muslim forms of ritual animal slaughter, sparking a firestorm of criticism from religious groups, who see the measure as thinly veiled xenophobia.
“There is a whole wave of people who try to undermine the right of minority and Muslim or Jewish community and make them feel that they are not really part of that society,” says Islamic Human Rights Commission chair Massoud Shadjareh, defending the 1,500-year-old ritual in a debate on RT.
“Tolerance and acceptance of minorities go to a certain point – there are laws,” argues independent journalist Luc Rivet, likening ritual slaughter to polygamy, child marriage, or wearing the hijab in public – all religious practices illegal in Belgium.
“Laws are made by the majority,” he adds. The resolution to ban ritual slaughter passed the Flanders parliament unanimously in 2017.
Halal and kosher slaughter requires the animal be in perfect health at the moment it is killed, which has placed religions directly at odd with animal rights groups that see the practice as appallingly inhumane.
Shadjareh argues that what authorities call “humane stunning” involves an electric shock or a metal rod being fired into the animals brain – hardly humane. “If you want to stop hardship coming to animals, we should all become vegetarian,” he says. Outlaw halal and kosher slaughter, he says, and Muslims and Jews will just import their meat from outside the country. All the new law accomplishes is to make them feel like something less than Belgians.
Flanders – and Belgiums Francophone region, Wallonia, later this year – join Denmark, Sweden, and Slovenia on the list of European nations that have outlawed all forms of ritual slaughter. Most other European countries have religious exceptions to the humane slaughter regulations.
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