Ben Weyts, a Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, has called for a ban of all ritual slaughter, which would prevent both Jews and Muslims from obtaining meat approved for use by their faith. This would not be the first time he has threatedto ban kosher slaughter. In 2015, when he suggested it and was opposed by the Jewish community as a threat to religious freedom, he later back pedaled and apologized and clarified his statements to suggest that he didn’t mean to ban all forms of ritual slaughter. (“Flemish Minister revises his call for ban on ritual slaughter in Belgium” n.d)
However, once again in 2016 he is promoting a total ban, despite his former apology to the Jewish community. (JTA 2016) He claims to be motivated by the desire for animals to be killed with a more humane method than what is used in traditional kosher slaughter, by requiring the animal to be stunned before killed. But is that really better? In kosher slaughter the animals are cut at the throat, which results in a quick loss of blood circulation to the brain, which causes the animal to lose consciousness so suffering is not prolonged. (Arkush, Jonathan and Shafi, Shuja, 2014)
With the stunning methods Ben promotes as more humane, the animal may suffer even more than in kosher slaughter. Stunning methods include electrical shock, being hit on the head, and even being deprived of oxygen in gas chambers. (“Stunning and killing”, n.d). Also, there can be a delay between being stunned and slaughtered, which could result in regaining consciousness and prolonged suffering which stunning was meant to avoid. So although people are concerned about what is most humane, stunning - depending on how it is done - may not be much better than ritual slaughter - which would also depend on the skill of the one doing it. (Arkush, Jonathan and Shafi, Shuja, 2014)
Jews and others may be greatly inconvenienced by the law, which would restrict the ability of Jews to slaughter their meat according to traditional kosher standards. Jews are not the only ones who would be affected by these regulations regarding ritual slaughter. Muslims have attempted to sue and overturn the ban on ritual slaughter on the grounds of religious discrimination and have failed. (Zeronian, Sarkis, 2016)
It is troubling to see the lack of religious sensitivity regarding this issue. At the same time the Torah reveals that the Garden of Eden was vegan, so meat isn’t required for a kosher diet, nor is it the ideal God originally had in mind for human consumption anyway. Meat eating, according to the Torah, was only permitted after sin as an accommodation to humanity in an imperfect world. So while it may be inconvenient if the Jewish community has to forgo meat in the future, they can still follow the ideal diet of the Torah.
However, I think if Ben Weyts is sincere about animal welfare as his motive in banning kosher slaughter he should be passionate about banning the slaughter of animals altogether, rather than pushing a ban that would selectively target religious slaughtering methods used by minorities. Sure, we can debate which way is the best to die but any intellectually honest person can see that a cow is not doing well if it is dead regardless as to the method used. And since some stunning methods could arguably be worse for the animal than kosher slaughter, the discrimination of allowing some slaughtering methods to be used but not others for religious reasons might not even be justifiable. So if he sincerely cares about animals enjoying their lives he should ban slaughter period rather than focusing on certain religious practices regarding slaughter used by others.
Author Unknown n.d “Flemish Minister revises his call for ban on ritual slaughter in Belgium” European Jewish Association received from http://www.ejassociation.eu/79019.html
Author Unknown n.d “Stunning and killing” Aussie Abattoirs received from http://www.aussieabattoirs.com/facts/stunning-killing
Arkush, Jonathan and Shafi, Shuja (2014) “Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter prioritise animal welfare” The Guardian received from www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/06/jewish-muslim--animal-welfare-humane
JTA (2016) “Belgian Cabinet Minister: Time for Total Ban on Ritual Slaughter” The Forward http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/340634/belgian-cabinet-minister-time-for-total-ban-on-ritual-slaughter/#ixzz4DOyUPkSd
Zeronian, Sarkis, (2016) “Muslims Sue Animal Welfare Minister Over Halal Slaughter Ban” Breit Bart received from http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/02/15/muslims-sue-animal-welfare-minister-over-halal-slaughter-ban/
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