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Belgium’s biggest territory banned kosher and halal slaughter – ‘the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since the Nazi occupation’, Jewish Congress says

Belgium’s biggest territory drew European Jewish Congress’ anger by banning kosher and halal slaughter. 

Belgium’s Walloon region decided to ban kosher and halal meats by outlawing the slaughter of unstunned animals. The decision was voted unanimously on Friday by the Environment Committee of the southern Belgium’s Walloon Parliament and will take effect on 1 September 2019. But the law wasn’t received well by European Jewish Congress (EJC), the federation of national Jewish communities in Europe, which says this is “the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in World War II” and will effectively ban shechita, the Jewish form of humane slaughter for meat.

In a press release, EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor described the decision as “scandalous” and said it stands in opposition to the European Union’s freedom of religion laws.


The issue Parliament’s plenary will be debated later this month. A similar move has been proposed by the parliament in the Flanders region, whose ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning will come into effect in January 2019, the De Morgen daily newspaper reports, according to The Independent.

“This decision, in the heart of Western Europe and the centre of the European Union, sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout our continent that Jews are unwanted.,” Dr. Kantor said. “It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society. It gives succor to anti-Semites and to those intolerant of other communities and faiths.”

He added: “We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in WWII.”

“The European Jewish Congress and its affiliates stand in total solidarity with the Jewish community of Belgium in its fight to maintain its most basic religious freedoms. We will not rest until this ban is overturned and Jews in Europe are able to practice their most basic religious rights.”

Also, Belgium’s Muslim community’s religious council opposed, previously, to stunned slaughter and there had been no change in its stance since then.

Muslims are worried about whether they can eat halal food … in conformity with their religious rites and beliefs,” the Belgian Muslim Executive said.

Both Jewish kosher and Islamic halal rituals require the butcher to swiftly slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining its blood. While this process is condemned by animal rights campaigners, who argue it is more humane to stun animals before killing them, EJC says that the new law “is neither necessary nor proportionate to the aims pursued by its promoters”.


Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand also prohibit by law unstunned slaughter.

Madeline Gorthon