Belgium: Muslim, Jewish groups to appeal Belgian slaughter ban

19th May 2017
Belgium: Muslim, Jewish groups to appeal Belgian slaughter ban

By Serife Cetin and Hatem Sakly

 

BRUSSELS (AA): Muslim and Jewish communities in Belgium are to appeal a decision by one of the country’s regions to prohibit the slaughter of un-stunned animals.

It would effectively criminalize halal and kosher slaughter in Francophone Wallonia, which makes up just over half of Belgium’s territory.

The decision was approved by the Walloon parliament on Wednesday and will come into force in 1 June, 2018.

However, there will be a derogation in cases of ritual slaughter until 1 Sep., 2019 — a decision believed to have been taken so that it falls after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that year.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Thursday, leading figures in both religious communities condemned the decision and said they would act together against the law.

Salah Echallaoui, president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, said they had repeatedly sought to discuss the draft legislation with a parliamentary committee before the proposal was voted on, but had been rejected.

“Our first step will be to appeal to the Belgian Constitutional Court,” he said, claiming the regional parliament had moved very fast and did not afford them the right to share their opinion.

Stating that dialogue to find a solution which would encompass animal welfare and religious freedoms was possible, he said “communicating with each other” was the best way.

“We will wait for the European Court of Justice to express its decision on the slaughter of animals at the beginning of July,” he added.

Belgium’s Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui said the decision “is a tragedy for us and the Muslim community”.

“This decision is violating human rights and the right to live our religion freely in Belgium, a democratic country,” he stated.

Guigui said lawmakers did not understand that slaughter in line with religious rules is “a religious obligation” for Jewish and Muslim communities, adding that they did not have enough knowledge about the culture, religion and lifestyle of the two faiths.

He said animal rights could not be presented as a reason to approve the law. If so “hunting is also an activity that violates animal rights”.

“The hunters shoot the animals, the dogs go and take the wounded animal and bring it to the owner by carrying it in his mouth. The animal also suffers in this situation. Why is hunting not prohibited? Why is nothing done in this regard?” he added.

Similar laws have been passed in Switzerland and Denmark but similar prohibitions have been lifted in Poland and Greece.

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