A regional ban on kosher and halal slaughter will go into effect in northern Belgium on Tuesday, affecting the majority of Belgium’s Jewish community.
In 2017, Belgium’s two regions – the Dutch-speaking Flanders region and the French-speaking Wallonia – voted to require that all animals being slaughtered be stunned first, effectively banning traditional Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter.
The bans did not go into effect immediately, however, with the Flanders law taking effect first, on January 1st, 2019.
The slaughter law in Flanders will force the Jewish community in Antwerp, which makes up close to two-thirds of the country’s Jewish population, to find new, imported sources of kosher meat and poultry.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, lamented the kosher slaughter ban, calling it a “sad day for religious freedom in Europe”.
"We are in the midst of an attack on the freedom of religion. The European capital has, with its laws and lack of tolerance for minorities, proven that radical Islam has won. We managed to block many [similar pieces] of legislation in other country in Europe and attempts to pass bills in the European parliament and initiatives in the the EU's agencies."
“Today is the last day, on which kosher meat and poultry can be prepared in Belgium for the Jewish communities of Antwerp and Brussels. A sad day for the Jews of Europe, a sad day for religious freedom in Europe.”
While the ban goes into effect in Flanders on Tuesday, the ban in Belgium’s southern region, Wallonia, only takes effect in August.