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Brussels divided over potential ban on religious slaughter
A proposed ban on religious slaughter, or slaughter done without first stunning the animal, has been temporarily rejected in Brussels.
But the issue is far from settled – the Brussels parliament will review the text of the proposal again next week and majority opinion remains divided.
Slaughter without stunning is important for those who practice certain forms of Judiasm and Islam that require them to only consume kosher or halal meat. In order for meat to earn that designation, animals must be butchered according to specific religious customs that generally don’t involve modern stunning techniques.
While bans on religious slaughter have largely been justified on the basis of animal welfare, some critics suspect the issue has more to do with anti-Islam sentiments, in particular in Flanders where the first ban in Belgium was passed.
Wallonia followed suit not long after, making Brussels the last region in Belgium in which the practice is still permissible – for now.
On Thursday, six members of the Brussels parliament voted against enacting a similar ban, six voted in favour and three abstained, meaning the proposal will be revisited.
Member of parliament (MEP) Véronique Jamoulle (PS) had previously announced that she did not support the text, but then changed her stance in order to align herself with the majority of her party.
“After consulting the party, I decided in good conscience not to attend the vote. It’s a question of loyalty,” Jamoulle told La Libre Belgique.
“I did not want to represent any other voice than that of my party. I represent one third of the PS votes in the committee, while my position represents a total minority out of our 16 delegates.”
Her switch was decisive for the final result of the vote, which Hilde Sabbe (one.brussels) says is part of a larger “culture war”.
“What really bothers me is that people who would vote against the ban are dismissed here as people who don't like animals,” Sabbe told De Standaard, pointing out that the Brussels Muslim community feels targeted by the ban.
The N-VA party, which co-wrote the text, reacted “sadly” to the results of the vote.
“We have been asking for a long time to ban unnecessary animal suffering in Brussels. There is a scientific consensus that you can reduce the suffering of animals by stunning them,” said MEP Cieltje Van Achter (N-VA).