The court ruling allows EU states to mandate stunning animals before slaughter, effectively making religious slaughter impossible
Rabat – The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Thursday that EU member states are allowed to ban stun-free slaughter of animals.. The EU court ruling is based on animal welfare but effectively makes it possible for EU countries to ban halal or kosher slaughter. The EU’s highest court ruled on a 2017 Belgian ban on slaughter without prior stunning.
The court case saw Jewish and Muslim associations work together to argue the ban would impede religious slaughter practices. Both halal and kosher slaughter requires the animal to be conscious before its throat is slit. The case revolved around animal welfare versus the right to religious freedom, guaranteed in the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.
Ahead of the ruling, an alliance of Belgian mosques and synagogues released a statement that admonished the ban’s possible infringement of religious rites. “The effect of this law is, in essence, to prohibit the slaughtering of animals by means of traditional Jewish and Muslim rites,” the Muslim and Jewish groups warned.
The ruling contradicted an earlier analysis by an ECJ legal expert who had argued that exemptions should be made to allow religious slaughter practices. European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor called the ruling a “heavy blow to Jewish life in Europe.” Miqdaad Versi, spokesman for the Musim Council of Britain, called the ruling “appalling.”
“What we will see is the ECJ continuing to fail to protect minorities as states across Europe introduce laws targeting Muslims & impacting others – here, Jews,” Versi saidon Twitter. He took issue with the ECJ’s explanation that the ban “is a breach of Freedom of Religion, but one that is okay given the claimed justification of animal welfare.”
The Jewish Anti-Defamation League similarly condemned the ruling, expressing “deep concern” over the decision “Tolerance of a religious practice that may offend the majority is at the essence of religious freedom and sadly the ECJ has ruled otherwise,” the group tweeted.
The ruling could have a significant impact on Muslim and Jewish people in countries that aim to curtail their rights. Poland has already introduced a bill banning exports of ritually slaughtered meat, which was tabled in anticipation of the ECJ ruling. Poland is a major exporter of halal meat to Islamic countries, a trade that is now endangered by the EU court’s ruling.
While Poland has a financial incentive that could limit such a ban, many states could use it to make life difficult for its religious minorities. Hungary, as an EU member state overtly hostile to Muslims, could use the court ruling to effectively ban halal meat.