The European Court of Justice’s ruling to uphold a Belgian law allowing stunning of animals before slaughter has upset the Muslims and Jews in Europe. The measure outlaws Muslim halal and Jewish kosher traditions, which require livestock to be conscious when their throats are slit.
Originally, the law was introduced in the Belgian region of Flanders in 2017. As per the law, animals must be stunned before being slaughtered so that they do not feel any pressure or discomfort.
The European Court of Justice in its hearing said Belgian law was in line with EU law and the objective of promoting animal welfare. It ruled that Belgian law limits the ability of believers to exercise their right to manifest their religion but observed that only it limited one aspect of the tradition rather than prohibiting the whole practice.
There has been a backlash from Jewish and Muslim communities across the world. Even Israel has voiced concern as the ruling permits other European countries to introduce similar laws.
Israel’s foreign ministry has slammed the EU court stating that the decision harms the freedom of worship and religion in Europe. It also signals to Jewish communities that the Jewish way of life is unwanted in Europe, the statement said.
Israel’s ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Emmanuel Nahshon has condemned the move saying “tolerance and diversity are empty words in the eyes of some Europeans”.
The Belgian Coordination Committee of Islamic Institutions also termed the ruling a “big disappointment”. In a statement, the group said that the Court of Justice was giving in to the growing political and societal pressure from populist movements which are waging a symbolic struggle against vulnerable minorities throughout Europe.
Jewish and Muslim associations had argued that the original decree made in the Belgian region of Flanders in 2017 had effectively outlawed their traditional ways of slaughtering animals, according to a Reuters report.
These groups said that the method of cutting animals’ throats with a sharp knife resulted in immediate death and that, traditionally, prior stunning was not permitted, the report said.
Meanwhile, the move was welcomed by the animal rights associations, which had argued that making animals unconscious when they are killed is more humane.
The Muslims and the Jews have been the victim of European countries introducing laws against their religious practices under the garb of human rights. In Iceland, a draft law was introduced banning circumcision, practiced by both Jews and Muslims.