‘’The European Union does not protect its religious minorities anymore,’’ said Yohan Benizri, president of CCOJB, the umbrella group representing Jewish organisations in Belgium, in a reaction to the ruling delivered by the European Court of Justice allowing member states to go as far as outlawing religious slaughter in an approved slaughterhouse.
The Court was responding to the question on a preliminary ruling by the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia which have banned religious ritual slaughter by requiring the prior stunning of the animals thus making EU-law based religious slaughter exception meaningless.
In September, the Advocate General to the EU Court of Justice Gerard Hogan had, in his official opinion to the court, called to “respect the deeply held religious beliefs of adherents to the Muslim and Jewish faiths by allowing for the ritual slaughter of animals in this manner.” But the Court on Thursday didn’t follow his opinion by allowing EU Member States to implement bans on religious slaughter.
“The European Court of Justice’s decision to ignore the AG’s recommendation in this case and thus allowing the ban on religious slaughter is not only disappointing, but undemocratic. No democracy can exist when its citizens are denied basic human and civil rights. We plan to pursue every legal recourse to right this wrong,” stated Yohan Benizri.
Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, declared: “We are appalled by the court’s decision to explicitly endorse the persecution of minority communities in the EU. Religious slaughter is a sacred practice in both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The religious freedom of millions of Europeans has been put in jeopardy by this shameful ruling. Civil rights issues like this are exactly why The Lawfare Project exists, so we will fight on. With today’s decision, the CJEU has once again declared itself an enemy of religious minorities.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor slammed the Luxembourg-based Court ruling.
“The right to practice our faith and customs, one which we have been assured over many years was granted under European law, has been severely undermined by this decision,” he said.
“This ruling is a heavy blow to Jewish life in Europe and in essence tells Jews that our practices are no longer welcome. Telling Jews that their ways are not welcome is just a short step from telling Jews that we are no longer welcome,” he added.
“Europe’s Jewish communities will not rest until our fundamental rights are asserted and protected under the full weight of European law,” Kantor concluded.