Feature

Netherlands: Animal rights versus freedom of religion

What outlawing this type of slaughter will do, though, is deny Jews—and, of course, Muslims, the main target of the ban—“the right to practice their religion,” said Shmuel Katzman in Trouw.

Shmuel KatzmanTrouw

The Netherlands is about to betray its long history of religious tolerance, said Rabbi Shmuel Katzman. Back in the 18th century, it became one of the first countries in Europe to allow Jews to live openly and practice their religion. Yet now, an alliance of animal-rights advocates and the anti-immigrant Freedom Party is trying to outlaw the ritual slaughter of animals for kosher and halal food.

By law, Dutch animals must be stunned before they are killed, but an exception is made for kosher and halal slaughter, in which an animal is swiftly dispatched by a very sharp knife to the throat. This type of slaughter kills animals almost instantly, so outlawing it will hardly decrease animal suffering. What it will do, though, is deny Jews—and, of course, Muslims, the main target of the ban—“the right to practice their religion.”

Just a few months ago, the entire Dutch political establishment reacted with horror and condemnation when a prominent retired politician said the Jews had “no future” in the Netherlands. Now it appears “their indignation was just crocodile tears.” They must decide: In the land that once sheltered Anne Frank, are Jews still welcome or not?

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