Belgium’s Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, has advised a European Jewish group of his intention to “enforce in all aspects” a Belgian law facilitating the practice of ritual slaughter of animals, The European Jewish Press (EJP) reported Wednesday.
Weyts made the clarifications to the European Jewish Association (EJA), a Brussels-based umbrella group which represents Jewish communities across Europe.
According to EJP, he offered his full apologies to EJA Director General, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, after declaring last September that he would actively pursue a total ban on the practice of animal slaughter without pre-stunning.
Rabbi Margolin had appealed against the plans to implement a total ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter, insisting such a move “is against freedom of religion”.
He emphasized that the Jewish practice of ritual slaughter, or shechita in Hebrew, is “the most humane method of slaughter as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of slaughter, but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter”.
In his letter to Rabbi Margolin, Minister Ben Weyts wrote, "After reading your letter, I regret that apparently my declarations regarding the slaughter of animals without prior stunning as prescribed by certain religious rites have been misunderstood. As you have indicated, European regulation no 1099/2009, stipulates that prior stunning of animals is not required in case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites. From now on this regulation will be enforced in all its aspects."
“I am very happy that we were able to come to an understanding about the importance of kosher slaughtering for Jews, not only in Belgium, but all over Europe,’’ said Rabbi Margolin, according to EJP.
The European Jewish Association has previously successfully campaigned against legislation to restrict the practice of ritual slaughter in Poland, where a court ruled two weeks ago that Kosher slaughter is permitted according to Polish laws, after the country banned the ritual in 2013.
The group has appealed similar legislation in Denmark, as well as legislation against male circumcision in Germany.