US envoy against anti-Semitism Elan Carr has blasted some European countries’ authorities for prohibiting religious slaughter practices. In a speech at the General Convention of the Conference of European Rabbis, held in Belgium, he branded these legal changes “disgraceful pieces of legislation”, The Times of Israel reports.
“Well, let me tell you what it is. This is nothing but a forced expulsion of the Jewish community of the country that adopts such legislation. A forced expulsion. And it is intolerable”, he said as he spoke about banning the Jewish ritual slaughter practice, shechitah, and the proposed prohibition of nonmedical circumcision of boys, known as milah in Hebrew.
European regulations require that livestock be incapable of feeling pain when they are slaughtered. But rules in Judaism, as well as in Islam, do not allow animals to be stunned, with the religious laws requiring the creatures to be perfectly healthy and alive when their necks are cut, so most European countries offer religious waivers that allow for the production of halal and kosher meat.
For instance, in Austria, such slaughtering methods can only take place in specially approved slaughterhouses, in the presence of a veterinarian. In neighbouring Germany, this is generally forbidden, although exceptional permissions can be issued.
However, some have opted for banning religious slaughter practices completely.
This year, Belgium, where the Rabbis’ conference took place, has joined Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Slovenia, among the nations, that do not provide any exceptions, as the Belgian region of Flanders has officially outlawed kosher and halal slaughtering methods. The move prompted Jews and Muslims, who argue that such measures amount to religious discrimination, to file lawsuits. However, Belgium’s Walloon region is set to impose a similar ban this year.