what are the restrictions in Europe?

what are the restrictions in Europe?

The shocking images come out in the middle of Eid-El-Fitr, the end of Ramadan celebration, which can last several days. Filmed in a Bigard slaughterhouse in Venarey-Les Laumes (Côte-d'Or) by the animal rights association L214, the images incriminate not only the Burgundian slaughterhouse, but also the practice of slaughter without stunning to produce halal or kosher meat.

A video released by the association shows cattle bled alive, not by a single act of shearing the throat as is the practice, but “with returns in the open wound with the blade or the hand”denounces L214, who filed a complaint against the slaughterhouse, requested its closure from the prefecture but also defended the abolition of the exemption authorizing the slaughter of animals without stunning.

Implemented in a more systematic way at the time of industrialization, at the end of the 20th century, to facilitate the work of slaughterhouses which must feed growing cities, stunning before slaughter has become compulsory, on a large scale. national, as well as European. “With a few exceptions, the scientific body and veterinarians believe that the suffering caused by slaughter without stunning is greater than that of slaughter with prior stunning”says on its L214 site.

In Europe, a right that oscillates between religious freedom and animal welfare

However, the rural and maritime fishing code in France, as well as European law, provide for an exemption when stunning is not compatible with ritual prescriptions. In a judgment of June 27, 2000, the European Court of Human Rights considered that this exemption ensures effective respect for the freedom to exercise religion, in this case, Jewish and Muslim.

However, the practice is abolished in several European countries: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland and even Belgium (excluding the Brussels-Capital region). Muslim and Jewish faithful can import halal or kosher meat (under certain regulations), but cannot produce it according to their rite, dhakât for Muslims and shehita for Jews.

The debate between religious freedom and the protection of animal welfare was recently the subject of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights. For the first time, the ECHR ruled on the ban on ritual slaughter on February 13, 2024, ruling in favor of the Flemish and Walloon regions of Belgium which had banned the slaughter of animals without stunning, respectively in 2017. and in 2018, ruling that the ban did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights as it relates to freedom of religion. She considered that the preservation of animal welfare can constitute a legitimate restriction, in the name of “protection of public morals”.

In France, a debate that resurfaces during the presidential elections

In France, the question of ritual slaughter and its ban has been the subject of occasional controversies. In 2012, in the light of the presidential campaign, a “Special Envoy” program, on France 2, devoted part of its investigation to the subject which is becoming one of the battles of Marine Le Pen, who criticizes, in this matter, the changes in position of Nicolas Sarkozy.

The question resurfaced during the 2022 presidential campaign. Jordan Bardella, then interim president of the National Rally, announced that he wanted to impose stunning for all slaughter on national territory, as well as on imported products. In the name of respect for animal welfare, Yannick Jadot, candidate for Europe Écologie-Les Verts, also speaks out in favor of the ban.

To date, France has not questioned the possibility of resorting to ritual slaughter. Such a decision would have serious consequences for the French Jewish and Muslim communities. With one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, France also has, with 450,000 French Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe, 42% of whom eat only kosher meat, according to a study from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, published in 2021.

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