A Tory MP has attacked shechita as against everything Britain stands for.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, who is also secretary of the associate parliamentary group for animal welfare, said Jewish and Muslim methods of religious slaughter were imported foreign traditions that were unacceptable in the UK.
According to The Times, Mr Rosindell said: “We have an accepted way of behaving in this country within the laws of these islands. That includes the correct treatment of animals. If people want to try to alter that, they should have more respect for the traditions of this country.
“If you asked the average British citizen whether they agreed with [religious slaughter], they would say no. Why should we allow that kind of thing to go on in this country when it goes against everything that we really stand for as a people?”
The MP’s comments put him at odds with his party leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, who has repeatedly defended shechita.
Mr Rosindell was speaking in the wake of the row provoked by John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), who claimed that religious slaughter was inhumane.
Mr Blackwell sparked anger amongst Jewish and Muslim communities when he demanded that kosher and halal abattoirs either introduce stunning of animals before slaughter or be faced with an all-out ban.
Shimon Cohen of Shechita UK, the organisation that regulates the kosher slaughter of animals, responded by calling Mr Blackwell’s comments “scandalous” and accused the BVA president of singling out religious communities for criticism.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg waded into the argument by insisting that “no government of which I’m part” would ban shechitah.
Speaking on his weekly radio phone-in, he said: “These are ancient beliefs handed down over generations. As a liberal, I believe in trying to protect that kind of diversity, not trying to quash it.”
The debate over religious slaughter comes just weeks after the Danish government passed a law prohibiting the practice of Shechita.
The animal welfare parliamentary group will hear witnesses’ views about religious slaughter next month.