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Muslims and Jews condemn law banning ritual slaughter

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - The Second Chamber of the Dutch States General has passed a law effectively banning the ritual slaughter of animals, a move condemned by both Muslim and Jewish groups. The legislation sponsored by the two-member Animal Rights party chamber faction (PvdD) states that all animals must be stunned before being killed, dismissing both the Islamic dhabiha and Jewish shechita methods of ritual slaughter which require the animals to be fully conscious. The PvdD successfully argued that failing to stun the animals subjected them to unnecessary pain. The debate over this matter swiftly became the focus of animosity towards the Muslim community in the Netherlands (whose numbers are estimated to be around one million). The country's Jewish population is comparatively small at 50,000. Following months of debate, a last minute concession was offered, giving the Muslim and Jewish communities one year to prove that animals slaughtered by traditional methods do not experience greater pain than those that are stunned before they are killed. Observers say that finding such proof will be virtually impossible. The legislation must still be approved by the First Chamber before it can become law. The Muslim and Jewish communities condemned the legislation and said it infringed on their religious freedom. To make meat kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, animals must be slaughtered while still awake, by swiftly cutting the main arteries and veins in their necks with sharp knives, and then allowing the blood to drain out. The issue has also been brought before the highest German court, which in 2002 dismissed a ban ordered by a lower court in 1995. Additionally, British animal rights groups have been demanding a ban against ritual slaughter for years, saying that those supporting ritual slaughter have the option to stop eating meat.