Six Jewish rabbis from several European countries firmly and emotionally protested against the imminent ban on ritual unanaesthesised slaughter of e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, poultry in the Netherlands.
In the country jewish and muslim slaughter practices are currently exempt from the use of anaesthetics prior to slaughter.
Earlier this week, Rabbis, from Belgium, France and the Netherlands, organised a special emergency press conference at Schiphol airport, near Amsterdam, to voice their worries about the ban that may pass the vote in Dutch Parliament.
Dutch daily de Volkskrant quoted the Amsterdam Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, saying that “A ban on the practising of the ‘sjechita’ implies there is a serious damage to the reputation of the Netherlands.”
In the Netherlands, as a rule, animals are anaesthesised prior to slaughter. In the Jewish and Muslim traditions, however, anaesthetics prior to slaughter is sometimes considered to be against religious rules. According to Jewish religious rules, animals have to be healthy and conscious when their throats are being cut, after which they have to bleed to death. Banning this has caused some to say the freedom of religion is at stake in the Netherlands.
David Lieberman, Chief Rabbi for Belgium, said it is a paradox that of all countries, it is the Netherlands where ritual slaughter may be banned. “The Netherlands is known as progressive, as the country for transparency and liberty.” Addressing the nation, he added, “It is sad that you are more sensitive to the pain of animals than for the pain of a group of humans.”
The Rabbis were quoted to say that the Jewish ritual slaughter, for kosher meat, cannot be compared to the Muslim (halal) way of slaughter. Jewish organisations in the Netherlands have announced to go to court to fight the ban – in case the bill will be adopted in Parliament.
This does seem to be the case, as the majority in Parliament also increased in favour of banning the practice. The Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) said to be in favour of a ban after agricultural deputy minister Henk Bleker had quoted from research stating that animals do suffer extra due to unanaesthesised slaughter. He also mentioned that there are groups within Jewish and Muslim communities that do accept the use of anaesthetics prior to slaughter.
According to figures of the Royal Dutch Society for Veterinary Science, at 65 slaughter houses, about 2 million animals are slaughtered every year without the prior use of anaesthetics. In total, 2,500 animals are slaughtered for the Jewish community.
It it thought that some religious communities may have to import meat if the bill will be adopted. Interestingly, the newspaper De Volkskrant also mentioned examples from Austria where post-slaughter ‘anaesthetics’ is being carried out to instantly end an animal’s suffering after a throat has been cut.
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