Dutch Parliament Bans Religious Animal Slaughter
Netherlands passes bill to ban ritual slaughter for kosher and halal meats.
The Dutch Parliament voted on Tuesday morning to ban all ritual slaughter of animals. Both Jewish and Muslim communities are outraged, but the ruling has a small loophole that might allow the religious butchering to continue.
The Animal Rights Party, the first of it’s kind in Europe to win seats in parliament, passed the bill with an astounding 116-30 in the lower house of parliament. In order for the ruling to become a law, the bill must also pass within the upper house.
The bill stipulates that animals must be stunned before being killed. This practice is contrary to both kosher and halal laws that require livestock to be conscious at the time of slaughter.
Marianne Thieme, head of the Animal Rights Party says “this way of killing causes unnecessary pain to animals. Religious freedom cannot be unlimited.” She went on to say that “religious freedom stops where human or animal suffering begins.”
The Muslim and Jewish communities of the Netherlands’ have come together in an effort to prevent this bill from passing. They are fighting for their respective religious freedoms, and believe this proposed law to be a violation.
“The very fact that there is a discussion about this is very painful for the Jewish community,” says Netherland Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. “Those who survived the war remember the very first law made by the Germans in Holland was the banning of schechita or the Jewish way of slaughtering animals.”
“We will have to import halal meal from neighboring countries or find another way to meet the needs of the Muslim population,” stated Rotterdam Islamic University’s Uca Octay.
There is a loophole in the bill, though. The saw outlines that religious practices can continue if it can be proven that the animal experiences no more pain than stunning. Problem is, this is almost an impossible task.
“This is absolutely impossible to prove.” Jacobs says. “You can’t ask the animal how it feels afterwards.”
Britain’s Chief Jonathan Sacks visited the Netherlands last week to lobby against the proposed law. His argument states that pre-stunning failed in up to ten percent of cases, which actually caused additional and unnecessary pain- more so than the cutting of the throat by a razor sharp knife.
International Relations Director for the Conference of European Rabbis in Brussels, Philip Carmel, points out that the upper house might still reject the bill. “We believe the Dutch parliament and people, who have a history of tolerance, will see sense and make the right decision.”