There were strong reactions from both Jewish and Muslim communities in Denmark after the Danish government decided to ban ritual slaughter.
Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen signed a regulation forbidding slaughter that is not preceded by stunning, which means it will be impossible to carry out kosher and halal slaughter.
Local Jews tried to meet him to express their frustration, but the minister refused, Denmark’s TV2 reported.
Finn Schwartz, the head of Denmark’s 6,000-strong Jewish community, told the Jerusalem Post: “If you want to change fundamental rules that concern the religious minorities then you should have an open discussion.”
In practice, the ban will have little consequences for Jewish life in Denmark since all kosher meat sold there in the past 10 years has been imported. But Mr Schwartz said that minorities were being used by politicians to win votes.
Mr Jørgensen told a newspaper that Sweden and Norway had already imposed the ban and that his lawyers advised him that it did not constitute a violation of religious freedom.
The Conference of European Rabbis stated: “Mr Jørgensen is placing the rights of animals ahead of the rights of human beings. The fact that this step was taken without any proper assessment of the science or even minimal consultation with the faith communities, speaks volumes about the deep lack of respect for people of faith.”
It emerged this week that Denmark was allowing British military medics to travel to the country to practise operating on live animals.
The Mirror reported that pigs were being shot at and then operated on by British army surgeons — a practice that is illegal in the UK.
A representative for advocacy group Shechita UK said: “When we hear about live pigs being shot at by the military for training purposes, we are left to conclude that this [shechita ban] is more about attacking and marginalising faith communities than protecting animals.”