Jews, Muslims team up to fight Polish slaughter ban

Jews, Muslims team up to fight Polish slaughter ban

Rabbi and mufti send letter to European Commission appealing law prohibiting shehita and halal methods for killing animals

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A rabbi sharpens the knife to be used for traditional Jewish slaughter (illustrative photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
A rabbi sharpens the knife to be used for traditional Jewish slaughter (illustrative photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Jews and Muslims have taken their case to the European Commission in an effort to overthrow Polish legislation that bans ritual slaughter methods, claiming that the Polish law contravenes European regulations.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director general of the European Jewish Association, and Tomasz Miskiewicz, Poland’s head mufti, lodged an official complaint with the EC calling for an immediate investigation into the matter, the European Jewish Press reported.

Polish laws requiring that animals be stunned before slaughter “constitute a violation of the regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing, which permits so-called ritual slaughter, without prior stunning, in the case of animals subject to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites,” they wrote in a letter to Dacian Ciolos, the European commissioner in charge of agriculture and rural development.

“The improper practices of Poland create uncertainty as to the ability to rely on directly applicable EU law and a threat to conducting ritual slaughter on the territory of Poland,” the petitioners added.

Slaughter without prior stunning was made illegal in Poland as of January, following a ruling in November by the constitutional court on a petition by animal rights activists.

“The ritual of kosher butchering is being performed all over the world since thousands of years,” Margolin told the the European Jewish Press. “Any outside interference in Jewish customs will be considered as a violation of freedom of religion for the entire Jewish community in Poland and will hurt tens of thousands of Jewish tourists and investors that have visited the country that has been seeded with so many sites drenched in Jewish blood and ashes.”

In July, lawmakers voted down a draft amendment to the law on animal protection that would have allowed for the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, as required by Jewish and Muslim law, if carried out so as to follow religious customs.

The debate over ritual slaughter comes amid a rise in opposition to ritual circumcision in some European countries. On October 1, the Council of Europe’s parliament passed a non-binding resolution defining ritual circumcision as a “violation of the physical integrity of children.”

The ritual circumcision of boys younger than 18 has come under attack increasingly in Scandinavia and German-speaking European countries, both by left-wing secularists and right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.

In Germany a year ago, the government announced legislation that would legalize ritual circumcisions if they are performed by a medical professional, three months after a local court criminalized the rite and criminal charges were filed against two rabbis.

Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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