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‘Stop slaughter without stunning in Brussels’, 17 organisations demand
Belgium’s animal rights organisation Gaia has joined 16 other associations in penning an open letter to the new Brussels government demanding a ban on the slaughter of livestock without first stunning the animals. Stunning with an electric shock to the brain is required in Flanders and will be in Wallonia starting 1 September.
“Mandatory stunning is the only way to protect animals from painful and protracted suffering, which is both unnecessary and avoidable,” said Gaia director Michel Vandenbosch.
Stunning renders the animal unconscious before its throat is cut and is widely considered a much more humane way of killing animals. While slaughter without stunning has been banned for many years in Flanders, an exception was made during the Islamic holiday Eid, or the Festival of the Sacrifice.
The holiday requires a family to slaughter a sheep according to the story of Ibrahim, and the Muslim community considers slaughtering an unconscious animal unacceptable. Ritual slaughter – without stunning – was allowed to be carried out during Eid by licensed slaughterhouses.
But Flanders changed the law to ban all slaughter without stunning; the new law took effect on 1 January. Wallonia is following suit next month.
That leaves Brussels as the only region that still allows ritual slaughter. According to Gaia, however, it’s not only during Eid that animals are slaughtered in Brussels without stunning.
According to the organisation, 96% of sheep, 87% of calves and 31% of cattle are slaughtered without being rendered unconscious. “Science has sufficiently shown that slaughter without stunning exposes the animals to agony that can take two minutes for sheep and up to six minutes for cattle,” said Vandenbosch. “In some cases, it takes 14 minutes for an animal to die.”
Belgium’s Muslim Executive took the banning of ritual slaughter to the European Court of Justice earlier this year citing an infringement of religious freedom, but lost the case. Stunned slaughter is also not in keeping with the Jewish tradition of slaughter.
“It definitely brings to mind similar situations before the Second World War when these laws were introduced in Germany,” Antwerp rabbi David Schmahl told the New York Times earlier this year. “It is impossible to know the true intentions of people. Unless people state clearly what they have in mind, but most anti-Semites don’t do that.”
Other signatories to the open letter demanding an end to stunning without slaughter include Flanders’ Professional Association for Veterinarians, Blue Cross Belgium and the National Council for the Protection of Animals.
Photo: Livestock in Flanders, and soon Wallonia, must be stunned with an electric shock before slaughter