Belgium bans halal slaughtering

A ban on Muslim and Jewish methods of ritually slaughtering animals has come into force in Belgium.

The ban brings Belgium in line with European Union regulations that require animals to be stunned so they can’t feel pain before slaughter. However, Jewish and Muslim religious laws require that animals are conscious when they are killed.

Kosher and Halal methods of slaughter involve the animal being killed with a single cut to the neck which severs critical blood vessels. Advocates claim the animal loses consciousness in seconds and it doesn’t suffer during the process.

Approximately 500,000 Muslims and over 30,000 Jews live in the small European country, which has a population of 11.3 million. Leaders of both communities have railed against the new law and are challenging it in Belgium’s Constitutional Court.

Most EU countries have religious exceptions to the EU’s stunning requirement. However, Belgium is joining Sweden, Denmark and Slovenia among the nations that do not make allowances; while in Germany and the Netherlands, the exceptions are very limited.

The new law applies to the country’s Flanders region and a similar ruling will come into force in the Wallonia region in August, meaning the religious slaughtering practices will be outlawed across the country.

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