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The European Union Court of Justice has upheld a ban on kosher and halal slaughter in Belgium.

In a ruling released on Thursday, the court dismissed arguments by Jewish and Muslim groups that Belgium is infringing on their religious rights by requiring them to stun animals in the process of slaughtering them for meat, something contrary to their religious precepts.

The ruling sets a precedent that could lead to a wave of laws against ritual slaughter, throughout the European Union.

European regulations ban slaughter without pre-stunning, but they make an exception for religious slaughter. According to the regulations, countries can set their own laws to reduce animal suffering.

The court determined that the laws requiring animals to be stunned strike “a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion.”

Mainstream Jewish and Muslim authorities do not permit any form of stunning before slaughtering animals for meat. Nevertheless, the court has determined that outlawing the production of meat for those communities is a fair balance between animal rights and the rights of Jews and Muslims.

In 2017, the Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia regions of Belgium passed laws that prohibited slaughter without pre-stunning, even within the context of religious rites, such as the Jewish shechita and halal.

Last year, Belgium’s Constitutional Court sent the lawsuit, which was filed by the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB), to the European Union Court of Justice to determine whether the law violates EU regulations.

Quote:“That interference [in ritual slaughter] meets an objective of general interest recognized by the European Union, namely the promotion of animal welfare,” the court wrote in its ruling.
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