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Halaal slaughter

Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’

Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists.

The change to the law has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.

European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halaal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.

Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

Commenting on the change, Israel’s deputy minister of religious services Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan told the Jewish Daily Forward: “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colours across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions.”

Al Jazeera quoted the monitoring group Danish Halal, which launched a petition against the ban, as saying it was “a clear interference in religious freedom limiting the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark”.

This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter. Last year, the constitutional court in Poland undid the undoing of a 1997 ban on it, causing most of its sizeable halal and kosher export trade to move elsewhere. (Then the Polish parliament rejected a government bid to overturn the undoing). The same toing-and-froing is repeated over the years in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

When the UK’s independent Farm Animals Welfare Council reported on the matter in 2003, it agreed with the activists wholeheartedly, but was overruled by the UK government. The European Forum for Animal Welfare Councils strongly supports the activists as well. So far as anybody can tell, in short – and as you might expect – stunning before slaughter is more humane, and this is what Danish law now insists on, along with most of Scandinavia.

Source: The Independent, The Guardian

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