Kosher chickens (illustrative)
Kosher chickens (illustrative)istock

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) expresses its deep concern for the future of viable Jewish community life in Europe after a top European court upheld a ban on shechita, the Jewish slaughter of animals for meat, imposed by two Belgian regions.

On Tuesday, the ECHR upheld the legality of Belgium’s Flemish and Wallon regions requiring that all animals slaughtered for human consumption must be killed only after using proper stunning procedures, thereby de facto banning shechita, going against Article 9 and 14 under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Reacting to the decision on Tuesday by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, EJC President Dr. Ariel Muzicant said: “Restrictions on fundamental aspects of Jewish religious freedom of expression, coupled with a background of massive increases in antisemitic attacks on Jewish communities, lead us to seriously consider whether Jews have a future in Europe.”

“This decision proves that basic European Union legislation allowing member states to derogate from the protection of shechita and impose selective bans does not protect minority communities in Europe and their religious practices,” he added.

“We call on the European Commission and European Parliament to enact legislation which truly protects these fundamental rights and to give real meaning to their long-stated claims that they foster Jewish life in Europe.”

“We are already seeing attempts across Europe to follow this Belgian ban, now sadly legitimized by the ECHR,” Muzicant said. “Jewish communities in Europe, now more than ever, need the protection of national governments and pan-European organizations to ensure that thousands of years of Jewish life on this continent do not come to an abrupt end.”