06:26 GMT +321 October 2018
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    Orthodox Jewish men check kosher food at a supermarket in Berlin

    Austria Defuses Fears of Jews Registering After Accusations of Nazi Methods

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    Plans of the regional government in Lower Austria to limit access to kosher and halal meat triggered an uproar in the country and abroad, after speculations rose that believers would have to register to buy meat butchered according to the religious laws. Some tied the proposal, aimed at animal cruelty, to Nazi legislation.

    Governor of Lower Austria Johanna Mikl-Leitner has excluded scenarios that an obligation for buyers to register in order to get kosher or halal meat would exist in the region, according to the country’s main news agency APA. She stressed that religious freedom is a value, but also pointed out that animal protection is very important.

    "That's why there must be special regulations," she told the media.

    The Austrian Ambassador to Israel also tried to cool down the debates, promising that local authorities will work with the communities to work out the best solution.

    ​This state’s authorities and the regional Department of Environmental Protection in particular have faced a backlash after the Austrian newspaper Wiener Zeitung reported, citing the head of the Israeli Cultural Community (IKG) in Vienna Oskar Deutsch, that they had come up with new butchering guidelines. The measures allegedly propose banning the export of kosher slaughtered meat from the state, as well as limiting access to kosher meat to those who practice Judaism. Deutsch voiced fears that in the future Jews will only be allowed to buy kosher meat if they've register beforehand.

    In relation to the proposed ban, he brought up the “notorious Aryan paragraph" that existed during the Nazi era, which enlisted Jews to deprive them of some rights.

    The Islamic community also rejected a possible registration of buyers, stating that such listing was unacceptable and people would be stigmatized because of their religion, according to the newspaper.

    READ MORE: Anti-Semitic Incidents See a Sharp Spike in Austria

    State environmental minister Gottfried Waldhäusl, who earlier defended the proposed guidelines “from an animal welfare point of view,” stated to the Wiener Zeitung that his alleged plan to make lists of Jews is the conclusion of IKG President Deutsch and not his intention. The official promised that “I will choose here wording that ensures that there will be no registration of Jews." At the same time he was vigorously against transporting animals to his state from other countries and regions for slaughtering.

    In Austria, religious slaughtering methods may only take place in specially approved slaughterhouses, in the presence of a veterinarian. In neighboring Germany this is generally forbidden, although exceptional permissions can be issued. The production of kosher and halal meat is considered cruel by animal rights activists, as Judaism and Islam require that believers only eat meat from animals whose throats are cut while they are conscious. The slaughtered animal should also completely bleed out.

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    Tags:
    animal rights, animal cruelty, religious freedom, anti-Semitism, halal, kosher store, Muslims, jews, Israel, Austria
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