The Parliament of the Wallonia Region of Belgium outlawed kosher slaughter on Friday, passing a law banning all slaughter without stunning, for animals and fowl. Kosher slaughtering forbids stunning before slaughtering. This is also a requirement for Halal Muslim slaughtering.
The new law will take effect in September 2019. Of Belgium’s three regions, Flanders, is currently considering legislating the ban as well.
European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor decried the decision.
“This decision, in the heart of Western Europe and the center of the European Union, sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout our continent that Jews are unwanted,” Kantor said. “It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society. It gives succor to anti-Semites and to those intolerant of other communities and faiths.”
“We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in WWII,” he said. “The European Jewish Congress and its affiliates stand in total solidarity with the Jewish community of Belgium in its fight to maintain its most basic religious freedoms.”
“We will not rest until this ban is overturned and Jews in Europe are able to practice their most basic religious rights,” Kantor vowed.
Kosher slaughtering is a highly politicized issue in Europe. Two weeks ago, Marine Le Pen, a front-runner in the French elections, announced that if elected, she would ban slaughtering without stunning. Le Pen is running on a platform to limit Muslim immigration and the measure ostensibly targets Muslims. Nonetheless, anti-Hallal measures, like many measures targeting religious Muslims, are also detrimental for religious Jews.
Ritual slaughter is prohibited in several European countries, ostensibly for reasons of animal cruelty. This type of ban has historically been used as an anti-Semitic subterfuge, most notably in pre-war Germany and Poland.