European Jewish Congress
Belgian Jewish leader urges legislators to reject shechita ban
Belgian Jewish leader urges legislators to reject shechita ban

Amid discussions on limiting religious slaughter of animals in Belgium, a leader of the country’s Jewish community pleaded with lawmakers not to “repeat the Nazis’ acts.”

The statement on Thursday by Philippe Markiewicz, president of the Consistoire organisation of Belgian Jewry that is responsible for providing religious services, was unusual because Jewish community officials rarely draw comparisons between present-day issues and the Nazi occupation, which remains a sensitive subject in Belgium.

“The last assault on ritual slaughter was in October 1940 under the Nazi occupation because they knew how important it was for Jews,” Markiewicz said during an address in the city of Namur at the Parliament of Wallonia, one of three autonomous regions that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium. “I implore you not to repeat this act,” the Belga news agency quoted him as saying.

Markiewicz spoke to lawmakers during a discussion on a plan to impose new limitations on any slaughter of animals that does not involve stunning – a prerequisite in shechitah, the kosher slaughter of animals for meat, and its Muslim variant.

Many Walloon lawmakers objected to Markiewicz’s allusion to the Nazi occupation, according to the Belga news agency.

On Tuesday, Carlo Di Antonio, the Walloon region’s minister for animal welfare, told the media that an agreement on effectively banning such slaughter was reached and will be implemented in June 2018, the Le Vif news website reported.

The move in the Walloon region, which has only a few hundred Jews, follows an agreement from last month that imposes limitations on religious slaughter in the Flemish region, where half of Belgium’s Jewish population of 40,000 people live. The remaining 20,000 live in the Brussels region.

Regardless of whether an agreement is reached, a ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning will become effective in January 2019 in the Flemish region, according to De Morgen daily.

In Europe, the Jewish and Muslim customs have united opponents both from liberal circles who cite animal welfare as their main concern and right-wing nationalists who view the custom as foreign to their countries’ cultures.

 Click here to read the full article in Cleveland Jewish News

Friday, April 21, 2017
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