Shechita UK was this week looking carefully at the details of a new agreement between the Dutch government and the Jewish and Muslim communities of the Netherlands, which offers protection of religious freedom for kosher and halal slaughter while improving animal welfare.
The agreement, signed on Tuesday by Deputy Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker and Jewish and Muslim leaders, provides exemption for shechitah and halal slaughter in relation to the attempt to have all animals in the Netherlands stunned before killing.
At the same time, the government has commissioned a scientific study on animal slaughter. The Party for the Animals (PvdD), successfully put through a bill in the lower house of the Dutch parliament in June 2011 which challenged the religious exemptions. Shechita authorities around the world were appalled by the Dutch moves and this week’s deal has been welcomed by the local Jewish community and by some international Jewish bodies.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, said: “Even when the stated purpose is animal welfare, any attempt to ban kosher or halal slaughter is an assault on religious freedom.
“This agreement demonstrates that creative compromises are possible that protect religious freedom while promoting animal welfare. We congratulate the Dutch government.”