French-speaking Jews in Belgium Sue to Overturn Ban on Ritual Slaughter

The Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations is fighting the regional ban on production of kosher and halal meat passed in May

File photo: A butcher shop that sells halal meat.
File photo: A butcher shop that sells halal meat.Credit: AP

The umbrella group representing French-speaking Jewish communities in Belgiumfiled an appeal with a federal court earlier this week against a regional ban on the production of kosher and halal meat.

The Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, or CCOJB, filed the motion with the Constitutional Court of Belgium seeking an injunction against the ban passed in May by the parliament of Belgium’s Wallonia region – one of the binational kingdom’s three autonomous regions, CCOJB’s president, Yohan Benizri, told JTA on Tuesday.

Both the Wallonia region and Belgium’s largest, the Flemish region, passed laws earlier this year that as of 2019 outlaw any slaughter that is not preceded by stunning. Both halachah, the Jewish religious Orthodox law, and Muslim religious laws forbid the consumption of animals that are not fully conscious when their necks are cut. If the animals are stunned at the time of the slaughter, the meat is not considered kosher by Jewish standards and halal by Muslim standards.

In recent years, ritual slaughter has come under attack from anti-Muslim activists and animal welfare lobbyists who view it as cruel or foreign to European culture.

“If the legislation is not annulled prior to coming into force in 2019, it would undermine the ability of minority faith communities to practice central tenets of their religions in Belgium,” CCOJB said of its lawsuit, which is being supported by The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank combating what it regards as anti-Jewish discrimination.

The bans in Belgium “violate harmonized EU law on this issue, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Belgian Constitution itself, all of which guarantee freedom of religion,” CCOJB added.

“Irrespective of its justification,” Benizri said, “a ban on kosher meat production sends a message to Belgian Jews that they can choose between living in Belgium and practicing their religion, but they cannot do both.”

CCOJB has said it may challenge the ban in the Flemish region as well. Pinchas Kornfeld, a senior communal leader in Antwerp, the region’s capital, told JTA on Monday that Jewish organizations in his community also are contemplating a lawsuit.

The Dutch lower house banned ritual slaughter in 2010, but the upper house overturned the ban in 2012. The following year in Poland, a constitutional court overturned a lower court’s ban on kosher slaughter.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students

A collage of the Bentwich family throughout the generations.

Unique Burial Plot in Jerusalem Tells Story of Extraordinary Jewish Dynasty