Belgian Muslims turn to Strasbourg Court after halal slaughter ban

By Agnes Szucs


BRUSSELS (AA): Muslim associations will appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against the decision of Belgium’s Constitutional Court banning ritual halal animal slaughter, they announced on Friday.

The Executive Office of Muslims in Belgium and the Coordination Council of Islamic Institutions of Belgium decided to appeal against the ruling at the Strasbourg-based European court after Belgium’s top judicial body approved the ban on Thursday, the organizations said in a statement.

“Current religious slaughter techniques constitute a full-fledged alternative to stunning animals and are fully compatible with public health, food safety, and animal welfare requirements,” they explained.

“The stunning obligation, on the other hand, is only an emotional symbolic measure, which simply serves, to the detriment of religious minorities, to appease the conscience of the average consumer and to obscure the reality that animals are raised as objects of consumption in industrial mega-stalls,” they added.

In 2019, new legislation on the protection and welfare of animals entered into force in the country’s Wallonia and Flanders regions. The law banned slaughter by traditional Muslim and Jewish rites by requiring butchers to stun the animals before cutting them.

Muslim and Jewish organizations challenged the bill, arguing that the ban on ritual slaughtering is against the freedom of religion.

In December 2020, European Court of Justice ruled authorities can order that animals be stunned before slaughter in a move that Muslim and Jewish groups say curtails their religious freedom. 

The court backed a regulation imposed in the Flemish region of Belgium, in a move regarded as effectively outlawing the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher traditions.

“The court concludes that the measures contained in the decree allow a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion,” the ruling said.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Map of Belgium By US CIA/Public Domain]

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