Dutch to Outlaw Kosher and Halal Slaughter

The Netherlands is considering a new animal cruelty law that would effectively ban kosher and halal slaughter practices.

The Netherlands is likely to pass a new animal cruelty law that would effectively ban kosher and halal slaughter practices.

FT (“Dutch law set to axe religious slaughter“):

Motty Rosenzweig is the only remaining kosher slaughterer in the Netherlands and, if a new law goes through, he will be the last.

The Dutch parliament is preparing to pass a law that would end religious slaughterers’ exemption from rules requiring animals be “stunned” or anaesthetised before they are killed. Because Jewish and Muslim rules do not permit animals to be unconscious when they are killed, the law would in effect ban kosher and halal slaughter in the Netherlands.

For Mr Rosenzweig, it is the latest sign of rising religious intolerance in a country where broad-mindedness has been a defining value since the 17th century. “The country has changed. They’re not friendly any more to any religious needs people may have,” says Mr Rosenzweig. His grandfather, also a kosher slaughterer in Amsterdam, died in the Holocaust, as did 75 per cent of Holland’s Jews. “They’re making us feel they want us to get away, leave the country.”

Many Jews and Muslims see the ban as part of a growing European hostility to immigration and diversity. Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician, has called for the Netherlands to ban the burka after France curbed the public wearing of the Islamic face veil; politicians including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s David Cameron have proclaimed the failure of multiculturalism; and anti-immigration parties such as Finland’s True Finns have been increasingly successful at the polls.

Yet supporters of the ban on ritual slaughter see it as a continuation of the Dutch tradition of progressive ethical leadership. The proposal originated with the Netherlands’ Party for the Animals, whose two seats in parliament make it the world’s only animal rights party with representatives in a national legislature. Marianne Thieme, its charismatic young leader, says religious leaders who object to the law are trying to hold back history. “Here in our society we no longer accept that animals must suffer,” says Ms Thieme. Religious groups have often opposed progressive social change, she adds. “We saw the same thing with women’s rights.”

For some, the argument is a scientific one. Many veterinarians believe animals suffer more during unstunned slaughter and remain conscious for up to a few minutes longer while dying. Ms Thieme says religious-liberty rights do not extend to harming other people or animals. Most in parliament back that view. A government-commissioned report by the University of Wageningen cited the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and humane-slaughter expert Temple Grandin in support of the ban.

In the American experience, laws which conflict with deeply held religious beliefs are subject to strict scrutiny, the highest standard of judicial review. Whenever a fundamental Constitutional right is at stake, as it is in the case of the free exercise of religion (protected by the 1st Amendment), laws must have a compelling governmental interest, be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest, and use the least restrictive means of achieving that interest.

Applying this test in Wisconsin vs. Yoder, the Supreme Court struck down a state law requiring Amish children to attend school past 8th grade, with the majority holding that the state failed to demonstrate a compelling interest in an additional two years of public education. My guess, then, is that the interests of preventing cruelty to animals would not survive a strict scrutiny challenge.

But, of course, the Netherlands isn’t subject to our 1st Amendment or the doctrines of our courts. Many European countries have in fact made all manner of bans on religious practices, notably banning of Muslim headscarves, for much less compelling interests.

via Tyler Cowen

FILED UNDER: Religion, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ponce says:

    Article 6 of the Dutch Constitution protects religious freedom.




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  2. michael reynolds says:

    People who would eat pickled herring for breakfast are capable of anything.




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  3. george says:

    Article 6 of the Dutch Constitution protects religious freedom.

    But usually those protections are limited – for instance if my religion called for virgin sacrifice, I suspect religious freedom would lose out to the laws against homocide.




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  4. george says:

    The virgin sacrifice is totally hypothetical of course – it would be far too impracticable for any modern religion because of the dire shortage of virgins.




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  5. Ben says:

    Yeah, I really don’t see this as the Dutch cracking down on religion. I see it as them removing a privilege that the religious enjoyed as a loophole to a law about animal cruelty.

    Not that I agree with the animal rights activists for the most part. Just saying that I think the argument is being framed wrongly.




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  6. PD Shaw says:

    The SCOTUS struck down a law outlawing animal sacrifice by the Santeria relgion. Link The problem was that the law singled out religously motivated killings; there was probably some better way to write it.




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  7. mantis says:

    I’m not a big fan of laws about what people can eat or how they can prepare their food (I was very much opposed to the short-lived foie gras ban here in Chicago), but kosher and halal slaughter are brutal, disgusting, barbaric practices. I don’t think they should be illegal, but those who practice them should be ashamed of themselves.




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  8. James Joyner says:

    @PD Shaw: As I recall the case, about the only time killing a chicken was illegal in Halaleah, Florida was if it was done in conjunction with Santeria rituals.




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  9. Ben says:

    Yeah, PD, the problem with that analogy is that it specifically prohibited the slaughters for religious purposes. This case is the exact opposite. The religious are the only ones who are still allowed to slaughter animals without rendering them unconscious first. And now they are removing that special dispensation.




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  10. PD Shaw says:

    I referenced the animal sacrifice case in support of James’ point.

    Though I would add that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government might be required to give special exemptions to religious practices that are normally outlawed.




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  11. ponce says:

    I suspect religious freedom would lose out to the laws against homocide.

    When Americans kill for religious reasons (drowning their kids in the tub, etc.), we usually let them plead insanity, george.




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  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    Michael,

    If you have a problem with Scandi food (which is from where that particular dutch treat derives), you and I need to step outside for a moment…




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  13. PJ says:

    A lot of European countries banned kosher and halal slaughter back in the 1920s and the 1930s.
    Considering what’s happening in Europe, the only thing that surprises me with the Dutch ban is that they are also banning kosher slaughter.

    BTW, isn’t San Francisco planning to ban male circumcisions?




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  14. Ben says:

    Though I would add that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government might be required to give special exemptions to religious practices that are normally outlawed.

    Oh, I agree that this wouldn’t fly in the US. The only point I was making is that this doesn’t look to me like Holland going after a religious practice. It looks like they are bowing to the demands of the Animal Rights movement, which wants all killing of conscious or unanesthetized animals outlawed no matter the circumstances. Again, not that I agree with it.




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  15. It should be noted that Jewish dietary laws don’t explictly ban stunning animals, only the slaughter of animals “torn by wild beasts” or which died of natural causes prior to slaughter. The avoidance of stunning seems more cultural custom than an actual religious requirement.




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  16. michael reynolds says:

    Neil:

    I suppose you defend the right of sane humans to consume lutefisk, too? Heroin is illegal, but lutefisk, oh, that’s fine I suppose.




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  17. mantis says:

    The avoidance of stunning seems more cultural custom than an actual religious requirement.

    Which makes it all the more disgusting.




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  18. Franklin says:

    It should be noted that Jewish dietary laws don’t explictly ban stunning animals, only the slaughter of animals “torn by wild beasts” or which died of natural causes prior to slaughter. The avoidance of stunning seems more cultural custom than an actual religious requirement.

    Interesting point. Anybody have more information about this?




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  19. mantis says:

    Actually, as I understand it, kosher slaughter must be performed on a healthy, non-injured animal. Stunning usually involves injuring the animal, and the subsequent slaughter would not be a valid shechita. This is not in the Torah, but is part of the oral tradition codified in talmudic or rabbinic law (I can’t remember which; might be both).

    Don’t know enough about the Koranic scripture and tradition supporting halal slaughter.




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  20. michael reynolds says:

    Can we still circumcise the animals?




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  21. PD Shaw says:

    All circumcision will henceforth require prior anesthetization with carbon dioxide — it’s both more humane and offsets the carbon footprint of seven and a half leer jets.




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  22. ponce says:

    Interesting point. Anybody have more information about this?

    Tacitus said the Jews developed their customs simply to do everything (eating to mating) different than their Arab neighbors…




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  23. dutchmarbel says:

    Today it was also decided that there will be a ban on killing eels without stunning them first. To get rid of the slime on the skin they usually throw them in salt, which burns away both slime and skin. When the new law comes into force they have to stun the fish before doing that. Also from the party for animal rights (that party has two seats in our house).

    I’m in favour of the eel stunning. I’m not convinced about the prohibition on halal and kosher slaugther because I think what happends in a lot of slaughter hauses that officially stun the animals might be worse for the animals. But for laws I’d prioritize laws about how animals should be allowed to live anyway.




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  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    Michael,

    Lutefisk is the Godwin’s Law of the culinary world.




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  25. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    I have a couple bass getting ready to go on the grill. Caught them this morn, “stunned” them with a knife thru the skull (I am quite sure they did not feel me filet them) Been eating venison all winter that was “stunned” with a .30 cal slug thru the lungs and heart,,, ran for another 200 feet even tho it was dead. (And it did not feel me gut her)

    I am all about limiting unnecessary suffering, but at what point do we realize that every thing that lives…. Dies??? And is eaten?????? By something???????????????




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  26. matt says:

    I grew up on a farm and I have been involved in the slaughter of a lot of animals. I have also been to slaughterhouses and have seen the various techniques used first hand. I can tell you that when done properly the kosher/halal method of slaughter is just as humane as the bolt method. Either of the methods have room for error though.




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  27. michael reynolds says:

    Ozark:

    That’s crazy talk. Why, if that were true, it’d mean I’d die some day. And that, heh heh, um . . . Oh my God.




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  28. And now the city council of San Francisco is slapping its collective head and saying, “Why didn’t we think of that too?”




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  29. Franklin says:

    dutchmarbel – Good points, thanks for your (presumably) local opinion on the matter.




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  30. Fog says:

    I’m pretty sure the animal rights angle was the winning argument in public, but I can’t help feel there is some cultural war aspect to this. The Dutch seem to have concluded that they may have been overly broad-minded in the past, and now they want to rein it in a bit. This new law would have its greatest impact on fundamentalists, both Jewish and Moslem. I’m sure the Dutch would not be too, too upset if any number of religious fanatics in Holland decided they could not in good conscience live in a country that did not allow them to prepare their food in their own manner. The underlying message is “Do it our way, or move.”




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  31. ponce says:

    Yow:

    “Jewish court sentences dog to death by stoning”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110617/od_afp/israeltrialreligionanimalsoffbeat




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