Belgium bans kosher and halal animal slaughtering methods

4 years ago

Belgium has officially banned kosher and halal animal slaughtering methods, prompting lawsuits from Jewish and Muslim leaders in the country who say the ban amounts to religious discrimination. 

Jewish and Muslim traditions require animals to be in perfect health when they are slaughtered, a requirement that clashes with some European laws that require animals to be incapable of feeling pain when they are killed. Most European countries offer religious exemptions that allow for the production of halal and kosher meat.

But Belgium on the first day of the new year instituted a ban on ritual slaughter, which was promoted both by animal advocates and right-wing nationalists, The New York Times reported. 

Jewish and Muslim communities in the country will now likely have to import meat from Hungary and the Netherlands, which will cost more money, Israeli news station i24 News reported. 

There are reportedly around 30,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims in Belgium. 

Religious activists in the country have argued that the halal and kosher methods of killing animals are less painful and more humane.  

A lawyer representing Islamic institutions, Joos Roets, told the Times that the ban was motivated by religious discrimination rather than animal rights.

“The government asked for our advice on the ban, we responded negatively, but the advice wasn’t taken,” said Saatci Bayram, a Muslim leader in Belgium, according to the Times. “This ban is presented as a revelation by animal rights activists, but the debate on animal welfare in Islam has been going on for 1,500 years. Our way of ritual slaughtering is painless.”

Right-wing politicians across Europe have been promoting bans on halal and kosher slaughtering methods.

“This sets a bad example for other countries," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the Europe Jewish Association, told i24 News. "This puts a shadow on our community and Jewish laws, as it is essentially saying that we cannot be trusted with the welfare of animals – that we need government supervision. This is a terrible precedent to set on an international level." 


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