Muslim and Jewish religious groups in the Netherlands are outraged over the Dutch parliament’s initial approval of a bill banning the ritual slaughter of livestock; both groups believe the bill infringes on their right to freedom of religion.
The bill — which must still pass the Senate — specifies that animals should be stunned before being slaughtered, contradicting Jewish and Muslim slaughter rituals requiring animals to be conscious at the time of death.
According to the Sidney Morning Herald, Marianne Thieme of the Party for the Animals, the world’s first animal rights party to win seats in a national Parliament, welcomed the approval of the bill that she had first introduced in 2008, and said she was now prepared to defend it in the Senate.
According to Thieme, nobody but Muslim and Jewish specialty butchers in the Netherlands slaughter animals without stunning them first.
”It’s a great honor,” said Thieme, whose believes sparing animals needless pain and distress outweighs religious groups’ rights to follow slaughter practices ”no longer of our time”.
Thieme told Radio Free Europe: “In our country, animal welfare is such a big issue that we think freedom of religion ends where human or animal suffering begins. If freedom of religion causes harm to anybody, human, or animal, then freedom of religion must be restricted.”
The Dutch Parliament voted for the ban by a margin of 116-30. The political left saw ritual slaughter of animals as inhumane, and the anti-immigration right viewed ritual slaughter as foreign and barbaric, writes the SMH.
Under the bill religious groups would be allowed to obtain an exception from the ban if they can scientifically prove their slaughter methods are less painful to animals than preliminary stunning.
Thus far, the religious slaughter of livestock has been banned in Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. In predominantly Muslim Turkey, the ban is under discussion.