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Ukip candidate calls for shechita changes

Nigel Sussman denied Ukip’s reversal two years ago of its policy to ban religious slaughter was prompted by a fear of alienating the Jewish community.

    Ukip's Edmonton candidate Nigel Sussman
    Ukip's Edmonton candidate Nigel Sussman

    A Jewish Ukip election candidate has called for a “re-think” of shechita, after long-running confusion of his party’s stance on religious slaughter.

    Nigel Sussman, 56, denied Ukip’s reversal two years ago of its policy to ban religious slaughter was prompted by a fear of alienating the Jewish community.

    In February 2015, the party said it would ban all non-stun slaughter of animals, but then backtracked, telling the JC shechita was an unintended target of the policy, with a spokesman saying at the time: “This isn’t aimed at you. You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean”.

    Mr Sussman, whose grandfather, Joseph Sussman, fled to Manchester during the Russian revolution a century ago, denied the dropped policy was Islamophobic, but called on the Jewish community to review its adherence to shechita. 

    He said: “It was not an attack on any particular group. It was devised from an animal rights perspective. 

    “I believe the view was that in halal slaughter there was mistreatment of animals before slaughter. There is a big movement away from ritual slaughter elsewhere.

    “We as a party believe in religious freedom, but there are a few touch points which are bumping up against modern sensibilities.

    “I understand that eating or drinking the blood of an animal is forbidden, but I would ask the Jewish community to look at the situation and see if the process can be made less traumatic for the animals.”

    Mr Sussman, who came third in the Westminster North seat in the 2015 election, will attempt to overcome Labour candidate Kate Osamor’s 15,000 majority in Edmonton, North London, on June 8.

    A Donald Trump fan with a devotion to absolute freedom of speech, the former businessman said he wanted to lower unemployment in the constituency.

    He said: “The UK is about to have access to billions of people after Brexit and there will be significant growth. We need to make sure it works for Edmonton.”

    But he admits his party needs to “define itself better” and combat the image that it seeks to marginalise minority groups.

    Paddy Singh, Ukip’s Wiltshire North candidate, was suspended this week after it was revealed he likened Jews to Nazis, tweeting in 2014: “The Israelis are basically Nazis in mentality. The survivors of the tragic holacast [sic] learnt from their captors.”

    Mr Sussman argued there are “always one or two bad eggs” in each party.

    A spokesperson from Shechita UK, the group which seeks to protect Jewish religious slaughter in Britain, said: “Not only does shechita having nothing to do with eating blood, it is a humane method of slaughter supported by an ample body of scientific evidence.

    "Thankfully, his party has taken the time to listen to our community before drafting their manifesto, it is a shame Mr Sussman did not give us the same respect before issuing his comments.”

    This article has been amended

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