NO TO KOSHER MEAT: Top EU Human Rights Court Upholds Bans On Shechitah In Belgium


The European Court of Human Rights has issued a verdict regarding the bans on animal slaughter without stunning in Belgium, asserting that these bans do not impede religious freedom nor do they amount to discrimination.

This ruling, rendered on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, stems from a petition lodged by Muslim organizations against the bans implemented in 2019 in two of Belgium’s three regions. As the highest authority with jurisdiction over the bans, the Strasbourg court’s decision is final, forbidding kosher shechitah in the country.

“In the implied determination of the distorted verdict is that the rights of these citizens to freedom of religion and worship are even less than that of animals,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association. He expressed concern that these limitations on Jewish religious practices will cause “serious damage to the fabric of life throughout the continent.”

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Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, condemned the ruling as “a setback for Europe.” He pledged that the Jewish and Muslim communities will continue to advocate for religious freedoms and equality, though he acknowledged that this task has become more challenging in light of the court’s decision.

In Belgium, Jewish and Muslim communities are in opposition to these bans, which they perceive as an unjustifiable encroachment on their religious liberties. The rationale behind these bans is the prevalent belief that slaughter without stunning causes undue suffering to animals. Advocates of shechitah contend that when performed correctly, this method minimizes animal distress. Similarly, proponents of the Muslim practice, d’biha, make similar assertions regarding their method.

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