BRUSSELS—Days after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a law banning people from accusing Poland of complicity in the Holocaust and from referring to concentration camps as “Polish death camps,” the country’s ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) is now presenting another controversial bill that includes new restrictions on Jewish kosher slaughter of animals and threatens to send those who violate these restrictions to four years in prison.
The Polish government did not publicly announce the new restrictions but the European Jewish Association (EJA) said that an examination of the 48-page general bill on animal rights that the government is seeking to discuss this week reveals that restrictions on kosher slaughter are hidden on pages 13-14.
The bill calls for restrictions on exporting kosher meat from Poland, which would affect a very large part of the Jewish communities in Europe, said the Brussels-based group representing Jewish communities across Europe.
The bill also prohibits slaughtering when the animals are “in an unnatural state” (standing up), which makes it very difficult to perform kosher slaughter due to some of the kashrut laws that forbid to apply any pressure on the knife (to protect the animal from unnecessary pain) – which is not possible when the animal is standing, and its head is leaning heavily on the knife.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, announced that EJA is going to fight against what he described as a ”shameful law’’. He also called upon the Israeli government to bring up the matter in any discussion between the two governments.
“Restrictions on Kosher slaughter is in complete contradiction to the principle of freedom of religion as enshrined by the European Union,” said Rabbi Margolin.
“The situation in Poland is unacceptable. I call on the government in Poland not to enact this shameful law and to consider that the trust of the Jewish people in the Polish leadership is rapidly deteriorating.
He added, ‘’ I do not want to imagine what the next stage will be after the enactment of the Holocaust Law and the introduction of restrictions on kosher slaughter in the country.”
The Polish parliament, Sjem, already forbade kosher slaughter in Poland a few years ago but the decision was overturned by the Constitutional Court, after accepting EJA’s petition on the matter because it contradicts the principle of freedom of religion.