Belgium’s north bans form of kosher slaughter

(JTA) – The parliament in the northern Belgium Flanders, or Flemish, region unanimously passed a resolution banning ritual slaughter without stunning.

The decision, made last week, follows a similar one approved in May by the Walloon Parliament in the south, Belgium’s largest region. Both measures will take effect in 2019. 

Half of Belgium’s Jewish population of 40,000 people lives in the Flemish region. The remaining 20,000 live in the Brussels region. Walloon is home to just a few hundred Jews.

Kosher slaughterhouses in Antwerp, the capital of the Flemish region, provide meat to many Jewish communities in Europe.

The threat to ban ritual slaughter without stunning has been circulating in Belgium for many years.

Shechitah, the ritual method of slaughtering animals, requires they be conscious when their throats are slit – a practice that critics say is cruel but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanized methods used in non-kosher abattoirs. Muslims slaughter animals in a similar method, albeit with fewer restrictions, to produce halal meat.

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