Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dutch to ban halal and kosher animal slaughter

The Dutch parliament has voted overwhelmingly to ban ritual slaughter of livestock that does not stun the animal beforehand. This would ban the production of halal and kosher meat in the country, which is the only kind of meat that can be consumed by strictly religious Muslims and Jews, respectively.

The fight has made for some strange bedfellows. The campaign against the bill has seen an unprecedented unification of the country's Muslim and Jewish populations, who both say the bill puts animal rights ahead of human rights. On the other side stands an unusual pairing of animal rights activists and the country's anti-Islamic far right.

The controversy over the bill, which came despite its widespread support in the parliament, persuaded the Dutch government to promise that no ban would go forward without the approval of the Senate (an approval not legally necessary in this case). They also inserted a provision which would allow religious groups to apply for a permit to kill animals without stunning them first. But this would only be granted if they can prove that the animals do not suffer more than in ordinary killing. But legal experts say this would be nearly impossible for the halal and kosher butchers to prove, and the burden of proof is on them. Agricultural bodies such as the British Farm Animal Welfare Council have concluded that halal and kosher killing causes severe suffering to animals.

Though the bill was sponsored by the Animal Rights Party, it received quick and enthusiastic support from Geert Wilders’s far right Freedom Party. This has led many to suspect that the widespread support for the bill has less to do with animal rights than with the anti-Islam climate currently pervading in the country. The Freedom Party's huge success in last year's election forced the governing centre-right party to take them on as a coalition partner, taking up some of their main issues such as a ban on the Islamic veil and a limit to the number of "non-Western" immigrants allowed to come into the country.

These suspicions were only stoked by the fact that the concession to add the permit for religious groups was only made after the parliament was reminded that it is not only Muslims who will be unable to eat meat in their religiously-proscribed way, it is also Jews. There is a perception that if the ban only applied to halal killing no such permit exception would have been added. Of course, since halal and kosher slaughter are essentially the same thing with different names, any ban would have to apply to both.

The country has seen a turn to the right politically and analysts say much of this is due to the increasing tensions between Dutch secular society and the religious Muslim immigrants who have moved to the country in the past decades and not assimilated. 

It's unknown how the senate will vote on the issue, but it would be surprising if they oppose it. Meanwhile, the Animal Rights Party has introduced a new bill that would end the permit system for religious groups, and this bill reportedly has large support. Even if the permit system goes through, it seems unclear or even unlikely that it will actually allow Jews and Muslims to continue ritual slaughter.


Jimmy said...

Nothing should be made to suffer just because of some stupid and frivolous religious traditions. Religion is frivolous.

Daniel said...

Banning kosher slaughter was a key element in early anti-Semitic propaganda by the Nazis. Wondering if that is getting much discussion in the Netherlands about this bill.

Brad Zimmerman said...

As I understand it, Halal and Kosher food is pretty clean because all of the equipment used is regularly cleaned and inspected. I'm neither Jewish nor Muslim but I do have more trust in products marked Kosher or Halal.

That being said, exactly how they are killing the animals in question... probably not so very nice, even if they claim it is very quick. What I do not honestly understand though is how either groups are supposed to keep Kosher or Halal if this goes through. For some of them, I think it's pretty important. I don't think it's like saying "you can't have a mosque or synagogue here" because you can pray anywhere. If you seriously believe that eating unclean/tainted food is going to send you to hell, though... that might niggle those types.

Anonymous said...

As a Muslim, this saddens me. Whatever happened to freedom of religion? I feel frustrated at the length this party would go against Islam and Judaism as well for that matter. What will happen to the Muslims and Jews there now? They are unable to eat in their own country? Ridiculous.

I would also like to direct your attention to this website.

You may think that this is going to be biased towards Islam, but read on. There are numerous scientific evidences that states the humanity behind the Islamic way of slaughtering and the level of hygiene of the meat after slaughtering.

Please, read through it and it's up to you to decide whether stunning or slaughtering the Islamic or the Jewish way is more humane and safe.