Dutch fears over vote on kosher meat

By Esther Voet, April 7, 2011
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An international coalition of rabbis and Jewish leaders has joined the Dutch Jewish community in lobbying against a bill to ban shechitah, which is due to be voted on next week.

The proposal to ban all slaughter that does not involve any form of pre-stunning was introduced by the Party for Animals (PvdD).

The PvdD has a tiny presence in the Dutch parliament - there are 2 members out of 150 - so it is banking on support from Geert Wilders's anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV).

The PVV may be able bring the two governing coalition parties onside and enable the PvdD to push the bill through.

Because the PvdD has no chance of gaining ground on big animal rights issues like the bio-tech industry or ecology, it is focusing on ritual slaughter as an easy win.

Mr Wilders has an interest in helping the bill pass because his party uses the "animal lover" tag as part of its pitch against Halal butchering. However, Mr Wilders casts himself as a friend of Israel and the Jews, and he risks losing their support.

The ADL and several European rabbis have hit out against the bill, arguing that it limits the freedom of religious practice. There are about 52,000 Jews in the Netherlands, of whom only 16 per cent are members of a religious community.

Last updated: 12:26pm, April 7 2011