Jewish leaders in Europe have lamented “with great sadness” the introduction of a ban on religious slaughter in the Belgian region of Wallonia.
The latest European ban, which affects both Jewish and Muslim communities, takes effect from 1 September and follows a similar ban initiated in the neighbouring Belgian region of Flanders, which took effect earlier this year.
In April, a Belgian court referred an appeal against the ban to the European Court of Justice to ask for a non-binding opinion on whether it was compatible with EU law. That could come in the next two years and set a precedent for the continent.
Before the Belgian law came into effect, several European states such as Denmark and Sweden had already issued their own bans on kosher and halal slaughter, and analysts say that Belgian vote in 2017 was mainly due to surging anti-immigrant feeling.
The Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) has challenged the law in a fight against well-organised animal rights activists in the battle over non-stun slaughter.
Lawyers for the CCOJB have pointed to the European Court of Human Rights’ previous description of kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion”.
This week Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said it was “with great sadness” that Jews were witnessing another ban on religious slaughter.
“This infringement on religious practice is the latest in a long trend of anti-religious sentiment in Europe, exacerbated by a rise in antisemitic attacks and alarming rhetoric espoused from both the far-left and far-right,” he said.
“European leaders need to recognise that actions speak louder than words. Saying Jews are welcome in Europe while restricting our ability to practice our faith raises serious questions about the future of European Jewry.”
In the UK, the British Veterinary Association has said it “would like to see all animals stunned before slaughter… This has nothing to do with the expression of religious beliefs, but is about reducing the welfare harm of non-stun slaughter”.
It added: “If slaughter without stunning continues to be permitted in the UK, then meat and fish from this source must be clearly labelled, to help customers make informed choices about the food that they buy and eat.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.