The Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions in Belgium has filed a lawsuit against legislation that would see the production of halal and kosher meat banned in two Belgian regions, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
The practice of killing animals without first stunning them is due to come into effect in 2019 in the Walloon and Flanders regions, but Muslim and Jewish groups have filed lawsuits against the bans, claiming they violate EU laws guaranteeing freedom of religion, it was reported.
In 2017, politicians in the Walloon region were first to pass their law, in May, followed by politicians in Flanders in July — and both now face lawsuits to stop planned changes to slaughtering practices coming into effect.
The Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions in Belgium is joined by Belgium’s Jewish communities’ representatives — the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress — in filing lawsuits.
The European Court of Human Rights has previously described kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion,” legal think tank the Lawfare Project said in a statement.
Yohan Benizri, the president of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, told media: “Legislators have given Belgian Jews a worrisome political signal, by trumping their right to practice their faith, in violation of the crucial principle of separation of church and state.
“That’s very sad, but it is also unlawful. It is a violation of European legal norms, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and we are hopeful it will be overturned as such. If this legislation ever comes into force it would be a dark day for freedom in Belgium.”
Animals killed for the production of Muslim halal or Jewish kosher meat are required to be fully conscious at the time at which their throats are slit, in order for the blood to be drained.