‘’This is a good development on this issue, although this result, the only one in line with the hearings of the minorities concerned, still needs to be confirmed in plenary,’’ said Yohan Benizri, president of CCOJB.
Slaughter of animals with prior stunning is already mandatory in Flanders and Wallonia, the other regions of Belgium
The president of CCOJB, the umbrella representative group of Jewish organisations in Belgium, Yohan Benizri, welcomed as a ‘’good development’’, a vote in the Brussels regional parliament rejecting a proposal to ban kosher and halal slaughter of animals without stunning in the name of animal welfare and thus remove the exception for the protection of minorities.
The proposal, which divides the governing coalition and was rejected in the environment committee of the parliament, will now be discussed in the assembly’s plenary session later this month.
‘’This is a good development on this issue, although this result, the only one in line with the hearings of the minorities concerned, still needs to be confirmed in plenary,’’ said Benizri who has intervened on the subject before the Brussels parliament.
‘’It is justice that has prevailed. It would be inconceivable that the parliament would ignore the conclusions of a committee that had the merit of really listening to the minorities concerned, for the first time,’’ he added.
The ban proposal was put forward by the Brussels Minister for Animal Welfare, Bernard Clerfayt, following a decision by Belgium’s Constitutional Court upholding a ruling by the European Court of Justice that EU member states can ban slaughter, including kosher ritual slaughter, without pre-stunning. But the Socialists and Greens oppose the move.
The E.U. court had ruled that the laws requiring animals to be stunned enable “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.”
Slaughter with prior stunning is already mandatory in Flanders and Wallonia, the other regions of Belgium.
The Jewish population in Belgium — around 35,000 – has been more or less managing the ban by importing kosher meat from other countries. But Jewish leaders
90 percent of kosher meat sold town is frozen, not fresh, as some kosher butchers in Antwerp, where a large Orthodox Jewish community lives, have been forced to close.
Under freedom of religion, which is protected by the EU as a human right, EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorised slaughterhouses.
Shechitah, the Jewish religious method of slaughtering animals for producing kosher meat, requires they be conscious when their throats are slit by an extremely honed special knife which kills in seconds — a practice that critics say is cruel but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanised methods used in non-kosher abattoirs.