Muslims Take Belgian Ritual Slaughter Ban To EU Human Rights Court

Illustration picture shows sheep at the Bosschelle sheep farm, Tuesday 07 April 2020. Belgium goes into its fourth week of confinement in the ongoing corona virus crisis. The measures announced on March 18th by the National Security Council to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 will remain active until April …
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Two Belgian Muslim organisations have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to challenge a ban on the practice of ritual slaughter without stunning which has been enacted in Flanders and Wallonia.

Belgian Muslim associations the Executive of the Muslims of Belgium (EMB) and the Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions of Belgium (CIB) have requested the ECHR consider looking at the ban on non-stunned slaughter following a September ruling by the Belgian constitutional court which upheld the bans.

Both the Muslim and the Jewish communities have expressed displeasure with the bans, which have been enforced since 2019 and affect both Halal and Kosher slaughter of animals, newspaper La Libre reports.

“The Muslim community hopes that this court will make reason triumph over this emotionally charged case,” the two organisations stated.

“The rule of law must not succumb to the growing political and social pressure of populist movements that are waging a battle of symbols against vulnerable minorities across Europe,” the groups said.

While both Flanders and Wallonia have had their ritual slaughter bans in place since 2019, the capital region of Brussels has yet to ban the practice. In October, Minister of Animal Welfare, Bernard Clerfayt stated that the Brussels regional government had begun discussions on the matter.

“There is no agreement from the government,” he said and added, “Instead, we discussed aspects of the text. I am not sure that we are making progress on this issue, but in any case, we must do it. No one denies that animals suffer during slaughter.”

“This issue divides the political groups a lot and therefore we must create the conditions for a consensus, to try to reduce animal suffering in the Brussels Region,” he said.

Currently, the only slaughterhouses in Belgium allowed to carry out non-stunned slaughter for Halal and Kosher clients are located in Anderlecht. The management of the slaughterhouses predicted in October that around 300 jobs could be affected directly and indirectly by a ban in the Brussels region.

Similar bans have been enacted in other countries, such as Greece, where the country’s top administrative court ruled in October that any ritual slaughter without prior stunning of the animal is illegal.

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