British party supports religious slaughter ban
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British party supports religious slaughter ban

Jewish group accuses right-wing UKIP of using ‘weak science,’ calls the move ‘opportunistic’

Illustrative photo of a kosher butcher slaughtering a chicken. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a kosher butcher slaughtering a chicken. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Britain’s right-wing UKIP party came out in support of passing legislation that would ban religious slaughter.

UKIP, or the United Kingdom Independence Party, released a statement to media Tuesday, which made UKIP the first major political party in the country to call for a ban on religious slaughter for halal and kosher meat.

“Animal and veterinary science has long concluded that cutting the throats of animals whilst they are fully conscious can cause significant distress and pain,” the statement read. Stunning before slaughter must occur as it is “fully compatible with all world religions,” the text also said.

Jewish religious law, or halacha, requires animals be conscious when they are slaughtered – a principle which is accepted by the major denominations of Judaism in certifying food as kosher. A similar requirement exists in Islam.

Many Jewish professional slaughterers and rabbis claim that kosher slaughter, or shechitah, is as quick, painless and compassionate as any other method used in Western commercial slaughterhouses.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed several times to ensure ritual slaughter remains legal in Britain out of respect for religious groups that require it.

UKIP’s statement said: “We find the government response to this issue is weak, lazy and bordering on spineless.”

It added: “We find the rights and demands of groups within those religions override the UK’s compassionate traditions of animal welfare.”

At least one senior representative of UKIP, European Parliament Member Stuart Agnew, opposed the policy announcement, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

Shimon Cohen, an adviser to Britain’s Jewish communities on how to defend the practice and campaign director for the Shechita UK not-for-profit, said UKIP’s new position is based on “weak, agenda-driven science” as well as “an opportunistic and a disappointing shift” that “returned UKIP to the fringes of mainstream politics.”

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