Josef schuster, president of the central council of jews in germany, says a new law in belgium threatens religious freedom throughout europe.
"The ban on deaf shaking, which will now also come into force in wallonia, is another sign that religious freedom is under attack across europe," schuster told the german press agency in brussel. He hopes that the european court of justice will lift the ban and take "due account" of religious freedom in its ruling.
The new law comes into force next week sunday (1. September) in force in the french-speaking part of belgium. It stipulates that animals may no longer be slaughtered without first being stunned. In the northern part of belgium, in flanders, a similar law has already been in force since the beginning of 2019. Ritual slaughter without deafness is practiced according to religious rules in both islam and judaism.
Following a complaint by the jewish community in belgium against the law in flanders, the constitutional court referred the matter to the eugh. Its ruling should come in a few months and have a signal effect for all of europe. Slaughter without stunning is currently banned in other EU countries such as sweden and denmark. In germany, exemptions can be granted for religious reasons.
The president of the european jewish congress, menachem margolin, sees the belgian laws as a devastating signal: "this is a strong message that the jewish community is not really welcome," he told dpa. Laws also restrict freedom of religion.
The chairman of the belgian animal protection organization gaia, michel vandenbosch, disagrees. He stresses that it is not a question of interference with religious freedom, but of animal protection. The reaction of some religious leaders is exaggerated. The laws were passed in democratic processes with a large majority and votes from all parties. "This is not a law that prohibits ritual slaughter, only slaughter without prior stunning," vandenbosch said.
The discussion about the ban has been going on for years. According to the german federal center for nutrition, an "amicable evaluation" is not in sight. "From a veterinary point of view, stunning before slaughter is indispensable to prevent possible agony and pain during bleeding."