Just one week after the acquittal of fiery
far-right politician Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliament struck another blow
against multiculturalism in the Netherlands yesterday with the passage of a
bill banning ritual
animal slaughter. The bill requires that all animals be stunned before
being slaughtered, a requirement that conflicts with halal and kosher stipulations
that animals be fully conscious.
The bill was initially proposed by the Party of the Animals,
which holds two seats in the 146-seat Dutch parliament and maintains that ritual
methods of slaughter are inhumane. It gained support from centrists on similar
grounds, but Wilders's Freedom Party has also been a longtime proponent. In
fact, it was Wilders who first raised
the issue in 2007 when he objected to halal meat being served at a public
school in Amsterdam.
The ban has provoked a furious reaction from Jewish and
Muslim leaders in the Netherlands and Europe. From Reuters:
"The very fact that there is a discussion about this is very painful for the Jewish community," Netherlands Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs told Reuters. "Those who survived the (second world) war remember the very first law made by the Germans in Holland was the banning of schechita or the Jewish way of slaughtering animals."
It should be noted that a last-minute amendment attached to
the bill states that halal and kosher slaughterhouses will be able to apply for special
permits if they can show that their methods do not cause more pain than non-ritual
methods. But some are skeptical of the permit process's efficacy, and the European Jewish Congress is
already considering challenging
the law in court.
The bill awaits confirmation in the parliament's upper house, though it passed easily in the lower house and enjoys widespread public
support. If passed, it will put the Netherlands in the company of a handful of
countries that have outlawed ritual animal slaughter. Revisions to New Zealand's
animal welfare code made kosher slaughter illegal as of
this May, while bans in a number of Scandinavian
and Baltic countries date back to anti-Semitic measures passed before World
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