New Dutch law bans ritual sacrifice
ISTANBUL - From online dispatches | 6/29/2011 12:00:00 AM |
The lower house of the Netherlands’ parliament passed a bill Tuesday effectively banning the ritual sacrificing of animals, angering Muslim and Jewish groups.
The lower house of the Netherlands’ parliament passed a bill Tuesday effectively banning the ritual sacrificing of animals, a measure that has been met with fear and anger by the nation’s Muslim and Jewish communities.
The bill, proposed by two members of parliament representing the Party for Animals, a political party organized around animal rights, will require animals to be stunned before being slaughtered. To prepare halal and kosher meat, however, the animal must be fully conscious for its slaughter. Marianne Thieme, the head of the Party for Animals, said the bill was not intended as an attack against religious tradition, but rather a way to prevent animal suffering.
"If you stun an animal before it's been killed, the animal won't experience its own death," she told the BBC World Service. "If you have new techniques to ensure there's no unnecessary suffering then you have to use it."
"Three thousand years ago, there were no anesthetics," she added. "But since then we have developed more humane methods."
But leaders of the Netherlands’ Muslim and Jewish communities said the legislation seriously infringed on their religious freedom. Before the bill was passed, Abdulfatteh Ali-Salah, director of Halal Correct, a certification body for Dutch halal meat, told the Huffington Post that the sacrifice debate put animal welfare before fair treatment of the nation’s Muslim population.
"If the law goes through now there's nothing else to do but protest," he said. "And that's what we'll do."
The Netherlands’ Muslim population of 1.2 million is much larger than its Jewish population of 50,000. When the bill was first proposed earlier this year, the far-right and notably xenophobic Freedom Party supported the measure largely due to their hostility toward the Muslim population, the Huffington Post reported in April. The bill’s passing has brought a rare show of unity between the nation’s Muslim and Jewish populations.
The Party for Animals said that nearly 2 million animals are slaughtered each year without being stunned first, while Halal Correct said the figure was a much smaller 250,000, reported the BBC. If the ban goes through the upper house of parliament, Dutch Muslims and Jews will have to stop eating meat, import meat, or leave the country in order to follow their religious dietary restrictions.
“It’s our religion we're practicing, and expressing religion in our modern industrial society is not a thing which is appealing to the public," Ronnie Eisenmann, a Jewish community leader in the Netherlands told Al-Jazeera.
Scientists, animal rights activists, and religious groups are divided about the degree of pain experienced by animals during ritual sacrifice.
The bill passed through the lower house of Dutch parliament by a vote of 116 for and 30 against. The main dissenters were Christian political parties who said the bill was a violation of religious freedoms.
Before the bill can become law, it must pass through the upper house of parliament – an event unlikely to happen before summer recess.