The European Court of Justice upheld a Belgian ban on religious slaughter, including kosher ritual slaughter without stunning, in a ruling released on Thursday.
The E.U. court ruled that the laws requiring animals to be stunned enable “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.”
The case came to the European Union’s highest court in Luxembourg following a 2017 law in Belgium’s Flanders region prohibiting animal slaughter without stunning. The ban, in relation to Jewish and Muslim slaughter, has been in effect since Jan. 1, 2019.
Animal slaughter without prior stunning is already banned in several E.U. countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, and other nations in Europe, including Switzerland and Norway.
It should be noted that anti-Semitism targeting the small Jewish population in Belgium is on the rise. This turned public in March 2019 when a parade float featuring stereotyped Jewish figures at a carnival near Brussels was widely criticized as antisemitic. Local Jewish organisations said it was “typical of Nazism of 1939.” The organizers claimed there was “never any intention to insult anyone” and defended it as “a celebration of humor.” The Jew-hatred float now appears every year as a standard element in the parade. Belgian-Jewish journalist Cnann Lipshiz has written that what is most troubling about the current state of antisemitism in Belgium is the fact that officials and opinion-shapers have often defended the perpetrators of antisemitic incidents on the grounds of “free speech” or that no offense was supposedly intended. According to Lipshiz, “classic antisemitism” of a type he had thought “impossible in an established Western democracy in the heart of Europe,” is now “mainstream” in Belgium.