Wiesenthal Center Deplores Dutch Parliament Vote to Ban Ritual Slaughter of Animals

June 28, 2011

"The country that was once the beacon for religious liberty is signaling Jews and Muslims there's no place for their religious practices,” says Center

The Dutch Parliament voted on Tuesday to ban ritual slaughter of animals-- the first time since the Nazi era--- a move strongly opposed by the Jewish community and many religious Muslims.

“Holland was once a beacon of refuge for those seeking religious freedom. If today's vote is validated by the Upper House, the Dutch are signaling religious minorities their rights are no longer respected,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading International Jewish NGO, adding, “In the past weeks, every major Jewish organization in Europe and North America urged Dutch leaders to drop this ill-conceived bill that bans slaughter of animals that have not been previously stunned.”

Kosher practice does not allow the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. A wealth of corroborating scientific evidence was submitted to the Dutch to demonstrate that the religious methods of slaughter were at least as humane as the alternatives. The yearly number or botched attempts at stunning, which result in minutes of agony for the animal, far exceed the total number of kosher animals slaughtered in Holland. Animal rights activists concede that the most important issues in ending animal abuse are the ways in which animals are grown, transported, and handled. Hunting remains legal in Holland.

The bill was submitted by a tiny animal rights party with only two seats, but it passed because of the support of the Liberal and Labour parties. “While some support for the bill came from an anti-Muslim backlash, the embrace of the two large parties is sourced in the antipathy for religion – all religion – in an increasingly secular Europe,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs. “Further, the lawmakers showed their contempt for religious tradition through a ‘compromise’ whereby temporary license could be sought for ritual slaughter, if applicants could ‘prove’ that their method did not cause more pain to animals—but without providing criteria of such proof,” he concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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