French Muslims, Jews Unite for Ritual Slaughter

PARIS – French Muslims and Jews have announced the formation of a new joint commission to defend ritual slaughter, following rising criticism targeting the practice in the country with the highest Muslim population in Europe.

Anouar Kbibech, the president of The French Council of the Muslim Faith, said the joint committee will be “tasked with reviewing and working on the challenges common to both religions” in the face of attempts to limit the custom, JTA reported on Wednesday, June 29.

The announcement was made during a joint appearance in the National Assembly, the French parliament, by Kbibech and Joel Mergui, president of the French Consistoire, the community organ responsible for providing religious services.

Representing both faiths, they came to parliament to address lawmakers’ questions about ritual slaughter.

The special session followed several critical discussions on the subject that have been held recently at the National Assembly, following the release of videos showing animal abuse and suffering at slaughterhouses.

In the framework of reviewing existing practices, lawmakers sought to revisit ritual slaughter at a session to which they invited Merguy and Kbibech.

“Fail rates in slaughter with stunning, which is actually the piercing of the skull before the actual slaughter, range between 17 percent to 20 percent, which means the animals exposed to suffering in non-ritual slaughter techniques practiced today is far greater than the total number of animals slaughtered through shechitah,” which Merguy said “conforms to our society’s concerns on animal welfare.”

He said he has come to this conclusion “as a physician and man of science.”

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 from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Muslim scholars agree that Shari`ah provides a divine law of mercy that should be applied on all Allah’s creations, including animals.

Islam also provides details about avoiding any unnecessary pain.

The Islamic worldview and guidelines give sufficient basis for a humane treatment of animals.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the embodiment of mercy, he treated the environment and animals with respect and mercy.

He taught his followers that because animals were part of Allah’s creation they should be treated with dignity and due care.