The Dutch parliament passed a new animal slaughter law that requires butchers to stun livestock before killing it. The bill removes a religious exemption that allowed Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to their prescribed customs.
The bill is not yet an official law and must pass a senate vote. Officials suggest that it is unlikely the senate will get to the legislation before the summer recess.
Under the law, Muslim and Hebrew butchers would have to stun animals either electronically, mechanically or with gas before slaughter. This goes against the Halal and Kosher practices of the respective religions, and observers would be forced to buy meat from outside the country.
Recently, New Zealand passed a similar bill. It was the first country to do so after World War II. Switzerland, as well as many Scandinavian and Baltic countries, also have the legal provision.
There are roughly 1.2-million Muslims in Holland, significantly larger than the 50,000-strong Jewish community. The two groups are united by the singular cause of religious freedom.
Responding to the public outcry, Deputy Secretary of Economic Affairs and Agriculture Henk Blekers stated that the Cabinet will give its judgment over the proposed law after it has been treated by both houses, and will look at how it fits with freedom of religion.
He insisted that the bill will be looked at through the lens of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Anti-Defamation League headquartered in New York called the bill a de facto ban on kosher slaughter.
Dutch Jews must not be put to the choice of violating a central tenet of Judaism, foregoing fresh meat, or emigrating. We call upon the Dutch Senate to prevent this action from leading to a clear violation of religious freedom that has a disproportionate impact on the Jewish community, national director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.
In both Halal and Kosher practices, an animal must be slaughtered while awake, using a large, sharp knife. The animal must be killed in one quick cut to the main artery.