As Belgium bans kosher and halal food prep, religious freedom fears grow
FREE Catholic Classes
Jews and Muslims in Belgium could face difficulty finding food prepared according to their religious rules, as new animal slaughter regulations banning kosher or halal slaughter began to take effect Jan. 1.
Brussels, Belgium, (CNA/EWTN News) - Joos Roets, a lawyer who represents a group of Islamic institutions, argued that the ban was intended to stigmatize some religious groups rather than its stated purpose, to protect animals from suffering. The government could have taken other steps to protect animals "without violating the Belgian freedom of religion," Roets told the New York Times.
Both Muslim and Jewish rules regarding animal slaughter require that the animals be in perfect health at the time of slaughter. They are to be killed with a single cut to the neck.
European Union rules and rules in European countries require that animals be made insensible to pain before slaughter. This means techniques like knocking animals out with gas, delivering an electric shock to small animals like poultry, or using a "captive bolt" device that fires a metal rod to the brain of larger animals, the New York Times reports.
Religious authorities say some of these measures, like stunning an animal, violate their slaughter requirements. Some advocates of kosher and halal slaughter say animals lose consciousness in seconds under their methods and may even suffer less.
Ann De Greef, director of the Belgium-based Global Action in the Interest of Animals, argued that stunning does not conflict with the religious rules.
De Greef was also disdainful towards the religious practices of the law's critics.
"They want to keep living in the Middle Ages and continue to slaughter without stunning " as the technique didn't yet exist back then " without having to answer to the law," she said. "Well, I'm sorry, in Belgium the law is above religion and that will stay like that."
The law at present applies to Flanders and a similar law will take effect in Wallonia later in 2019.
Ben Weyts, a right-wing Flemish nationalist who oversees animal welfare as a minister in the Flanders government, proposed the ban. Right-wing leaders in several countries, many of whom oppose growing Muslim populations, have opposed religious slaughter practices, the New York Times reports.
Most countries and the EU have religious exemptions to the requirement to stun animals. The Belgian rules do not.
There are over 30,000 Jews and about 500,000 Muslims in Belgium, out of 11 million people. Those who adhere to the slaughter rules will have to order meat from other countries. This will mean paying more and possibly facing food shortages.
Antwerp has one of the largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Europe, with many Hasidic communities and "an abundance of kosher restaurants," the European Jewish Congress said.
Yaakov David Schmahl, a rabbi of Antwerp, reflected on fears the Belgium rules conceal anti-religious bigotry under animal protection concerns.
It is impossible to know people's true intentions unless they state it clearly, "but most anti-Semites don't do that," he told the New York Times.
He also voiced concern about a new Belgian law regulating homeschooling, a common practice for his Jewish community, as another example of a European trend he said makes it more difficult for observant Jews to live according to their practices.
Saatci Bayram, a leading Belgian Muslim, said when the government sought advice about the ban Muslims were critical but the government did not take their advice.
"This ban is presented as a revelation by animal welfare activists, but the debate on animal welfare in Islam has been going on for 1,500 years," Bayram said. "Our way of ritual slaughtering is painless."
Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, said the law "sets a bad example for other countries."
"This puts a shadow on our community and Jewish laws, as it is essentially saying that we cannot be trusted with the welfare of animals " that we need government supervision," he told the Israeli international news station i24. "This is a terrible precedent to set on an international level."
In September 2013 the Polish bishops' conference spoke out against a national law banning kosher and halal slaughter, citing longstanding Polish recognition of religious freedom and "the right to maintain one's own traditions and customs." Jews and Muslims have the right "to preserve their customs, including the ritual slaughter of animals," the bishops said.
The bishops' conference backed the view "that Jewish religious communities and believers of Islam are entitled to preserve and implement their fundamental rights to freedom of religion and worship."
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Tuesday that it will remove from archdiocesan buildings the names of two former archbishops who were ... continue reading
After a recent gathering, the Catholic bishops of Nigeria called on local residents and officials to promote the common good by fostering ... continue reading
The bishops' conference of Kazakhstan issued a statement of support Tuesday for Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio to that ... continue reading
Despite last month's peace agreement between the Central African Republic government and rebel factions, the country's citizens, especially ... continue reading
Last month a provincial superior of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation explained that the recent transfer of Sister Lissy Vadakkel was ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Bl. John of Parma: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, March 20, 2019
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, March 20, 2019
- Prayer Requests Live for Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 HD Video
- Nigerian bishops: Government should seek the common good
- Daily Reading for Thursday, March 21st, 2019 HD Video
- 'Living Lent': Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent - Day 15
- Archdiocese of Milwaukee removes names of two bishops from buildings
- Prayer Requests Live for Monday, March 18th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, March 18th, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.