Belgium Bans Kosher Slaughter

On the first day of this year, an effective ban on kosher and halal slaughter of animals went into effect in the Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region; a similar law will take effect in French-speaking Wallonia in September. The law affects not only Belgian Jews but also Jews in countries like Sweden who import their meat from Belgium. The editors of the Jerusalem Post write:

This law, like many others proposed and passed in Europe, was [supposedly written to guarantee the] humane treatment of animals, but a generous dose of anti-Muslim sentiment helped steward it into the law books. The government in Belgium recently fell apart as a result of a dispute over its refugee policy, so issues related to minorities are a hot topic in Brussels and Antwerp. As often happens when xenophobia spreads on the Continent, even when it’s not originally meant to target Jews, they suffer the consequences. . . .

There is a long tradition of European anti-Semites using animal rights to ban kosher slaughter. In Switzerland, which uses a system of referendums to decide on individual policies, the first such [referendum] was on banning sh’ḥitah, which was prohibited [throughout the country] in 1893. Norway banned slaughter without stunning in 1929, [effectively banning kosher slaughter, since halakhah forbids stunning], and Sweden followed in 1937. And, of course, Nazi Germany instituted such a ban, which spread to its Axis allies Italy and Hungary; all three [bans] were overturned. . . .

[Belgian legislators] claim to be taking a moral stand, when in fact, they’ve done the exact opposite—the immoral and undemocratic act of violating their citizens’ basic freedom of conscience.

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