Following the European Court of Justice’s decision this morning to uphold the ban on non-stun slaughter in the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), has issued the following statement:
“This decision goes even further than expected and flies in the face of recent statements from the European Institutions that Jewish life is to be treasured and respected. The Court is entitled to rule that member states may or may not accept derogations from the law, that has always been in the regulation, but to seek to define shechita, our religious practice, is absurd.
“The European Court of Justice’s decision to enforce the ban on non-stun slaughter in the Flanders and Wallonia regions of Belgium will be felt by Jewish communities across the continent. The bans have already had a devastating impact on the Belgian Jewish community, causing supply shortages during the pandemic, and we are all very aware of the precedent this sets which challenges our rights to practice our religion.
“Historically, bans on religious slaughter have always been associated with the far-right and population control, a trend that is clearly documented a can be traced back to bans in Switzerland in the 1800s to prevent Jewish immigration from Russia and the Pogroms, to the bans in Nazi Germany and as recently as 2012, attempts to ban religious slaughter in the Netherlands were publicly promoted as a method of stopping Islam spreading to the country. We now face a situation where, with no consultation of the local Jewish community, a ban has been implemented and the implications on the Jewish community will be long lasting.
“We are told by European leaders that they want Jewish communities to live and be successful in Europe, but they provide no safeguards for our way of life. Europe needs to reflect on the type of continent it wants to be. If values like freedom of religion and true diversity are integral, then the current system of law does not reflect that and needs to be urgently reviewed.
“We will continue to work with representatives of the Belgian Jewish community to offer our support in any way that we can and pay tribute to the work they have put in over to trying to overturn these bans over the last three years.”
Jewish laws of kashrut prohibit the use of stunning in the slaughtering of animals, as animals intended for food must be healthy and uninjured at the time of slaughter.