Belgium French-speaking region stuns religious minorities with ban on kosher and halal meat

Belgium French-speaking region stuns religious minorities with ban on kosher and halal meat
Muslim and Jewish groups in the Belgian region of Wallonia are protesting a new law which outlaws halal and kosher slaughter.
2 min read
03 September, 2019
Activists say the ban on un-stunned slaughter is targeting religious minorities [Getty]
A new law that has come into effect in a region of Belgium has banned halal and kosher slaughter, having serious implications for religious groups and butchers.

The ban, which had already been in effect in Flanders, came into force in the French-speaking region of Wallonia on 1 September. 

Advocates of the new law say the legislation does not intentionally target religious groups, but aims to end the slaughter of un-stunned livestock.

According to stricter interpretations of Islamic and Jewish law, animals must be slaughtered while fully conscious and not incapacitated by stunning.

"It is absolutely not a ban on religious slaughter. Not at all. It is a ban on slaughter without stunning," Michel Vandenbosch, president of animal Welfare group GAIA, was quoted by Euronews as saying.

"Even if you follow the rules of the 'art' meaning you use a very sharp blade, and then you do everything according to the religious tradition, even then the animal will suffer."

Current EU legislation requires animals to be stunned prior to slaughter, however gives special dispensations for religious grounds.

Critics of the ban, however, say that concerns over animal welfare have been hijacked by the far-right in order to push xenephobic agendas.

"This regulation is in agenda of Islamophobia in Europe...and now they have a lot of problems with Judes (sic Jewish) organisations,"  Mustapha Chairi, President of The Collective Against Islamophobia, was quoted by Euronews as saying.

"This is why we have to go to justice with the Jude[sic] (Jewish) organisations."

Following attempts by Muslim and Jewish communities to overturn the ban, Belgium's constitutional court sent a case to the EU's top court for a decision.

The court's verdict, which is expected in two years, will set a precedent on the matter for all states in the 28-member bloc.