Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities, said European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin following Greece’s Supreme Court’s ruling that ritual slaughter without stunning violates EU law, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
The ruling is an immediate consequence of a ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg last December that member countries may ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing the rights of religious groups.
The December ruling said that the EU’s animal slaughter regulation “does not preclude member states from imposing an obligation to stun animals prior to killing which also applies in the case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites”, but encouraged member states to find a balance.
“It is now clear that a number of member states are zealously applying the former whilst ignoring the latter,” said Rabbi Margolin in a reaction to the Greek decision.
The Brussels-based European Jewish Association represents hundreds of communities across the continent.
“We warned in December about the downstream consequences that the European Court of Justice ruling carried with it, and now we see the outcome. Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack. It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and now it is Greece’s turn.
“These direct attacks are coming from many of the same governments and institutions who have sworn to protect their Jewish communities. What we are witnessing is rank hypocrisy,” said the EJA leader.
He added: “When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our faith and practice is assailed left and right by laws, they are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found.”
“What use is it to protect Jews while legislating fundamental pillars of our religion out of existence?,’’ he asked.
He said his group ‘’will urgently making representations to the highest levels of the Greek government to get direct answers to this simple but fundamental question: How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?’’
Under freedom of religion, which is protected by the European Union as a human right, EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorized slaughterhouses. Jewish kosher religious practice requires livestock to be conscious when their throats are slit.
‘How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?,’ asks Jewish leader after Greece rules to ban slaughter without stunning