Belgian Muslims, Jews Challenge Slaughter Ban

BRUSSELS – Muslim and Jewish groups in Belgium filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a legislation that bans halal and kosher meat in two Belgian regions.

“That’s very sad, but it’s also unlawful. It’s 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,” Yohan Benizri, the president of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, told The Daily Mail.

“This is trumping rights to practice faith, in violation of the crucial principle of separation of church and state,” he continued.

The lawsuit was filed by Belgium’s Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions and the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations.

Along with the two representative bodies, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress joined the lawsuit.

The ban is due to come into effect by 2019 in the Walloon and Flanders regions.

In May 2017, Walloon politicians were the first to pass the law. In July, Flemish politicians followed them.

On the other hand, the European Court of Human Rights has previously described kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of the practice of the Jewish religion,” The Lawfare Project, a legal think-tank, said in a statement.

The concept of halal — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.

Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife to their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Animals are slaughtered during the production of Muslim halal and Jewish kosher meat in order for the blood to be drained.

According to the 2016 census, Muslims made up 3% of Belgium’s populations, while Jews represented 0.2%.