The Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) Thursday allowed the European Union states to impose a ban on religious slaughtering like Halal and Kosher, of animals. The Court today ruled in favour of a regulation already imposed in the Flemish region of Belgium, which, on the grounds of animal rights, banned the slaughter of livestock without stunning them first.
Belgium’s Flanders regional government had issued the order in 2017 which took effect in 2019. The order said that the slaughterhouses must stun livestock before slaughtering them.
While issuing the directive the court said: “The court concludes that the measures contained in the decree allow a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion.”
Muslims and Jews opined that the ban on Halal and Kosher slaughter is a ‘denial of democracy’
Both Muslim halal and Jewish kosher slaughtering requires the animal to be conscious when its throat is slit. The case revolved around animal welfare versus the right to religious freedom, guaranteed in the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.
This decision which Muslims and Jewish believe is against their traditions, which require livestock to be conscious when their throats are slit, has irked people of both the communities, which have called the judgement discriminatory. An umbrella organisation for Jewish groups in Belgium slammed the decision as a ‘denial of democracy’ that did not respect the rights of minority groups.
“The fight continues, and we will not admit defeat until we have exhausted all our legal remedies, which is not yet the case,” Yohan Benizri, head of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organisations, said.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, said that the court ruling represented a “sad day for European Jewry”. “What a terrible message to send to European Jewry, that you and your practices are not welcome here. This is a basic denial of our rights as European citizens,” he said in a statement.
The Muslim community in Belgium was also unhappy with the ruling, which they believed insulted their traditions. The Belgian Coordination Committee of Islamic Institutions said the decision had been a “big disappointment” and argued that the court was pandering to populist sentiments.
“The Court of Justice seems to have given in to the growing political and societal pressure from populist movements which are waging a symbolic struggle against vulnerable minorities throughout Europe,” the group said in a statement.
Flanders Govt and animal right activists welcome the decision
However, the decision was welcomed by the Flanders government in northern Belgium. Flanders nationalist animal welfare minister Ben Weyts said: We’re today writing history”.
Animal rights group Gaia said it was a great day and the culmination of a 25-year struggle.