Despite concern that a Belgian law bans Jewish and Muslim religious slaughter practices, a European Union court has said the law is justified by the need to promote animal welfare even if it does not accommodate religious freedom.
“This decision goes even further than expected and flies in the face of recent statements from the European institutions that Jewish life is to be treasured and respected,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, the head of the Conference of European Rabbis, BBC News reports.
The European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European Union, said the Belgian law requiring animals to be stunned limited the rights of Muslims and Jews but did not ban ritual slaughter. The law’s “interference with the freedom to manifest religion” met an “objective of general interest recognized by the European Union, namely the promotion of general welfare.” The law would not affect the sale in Belgium of kosher and halal meat produced in other countries, it noted.
Ben Weyts, the Flanders government’s nationalist welfare minister, welcomed the decision, saying “we’re writing history today.” The animal rights group Gaia also welcomed the decision.