European Court of Human Rights closes case on slaughter without stunning

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected a request to review its ruling on the ban on slaughter without stunning. This means that the case is finally settled, the animal rights organisation GAIA said in a press release on Tuesday.

A ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning as part of religious rituals has been in force in Flanders and Wallonia since 2019. As ritual slaughter is common in Muslim and Jewish communities, Islamic and Jewish organisations appealed against this decision.

First, the Constitutional Court ruled in September 2021 that the bans did not violate the Belgian Constitution. The organisations then went to the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court ruled in February that the ban did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Islamic and Jewish organisations then asked for the case to be referred to the court's Grand Chamber. Its panel of five judges decided early last week to reject the request, effectively closing the case.

"The European Court of Human Rights has definitively ruled that a ban on this practice, as introduced by Flanders and Wallonia, does not violate freedom of religion," said GAIA president Michel Vandenbosch.

Divisive issue

Unlike in Flanders and Wallonia, the practice is not banned in Brussels. In 2022, a proposal to ban the practice was rejected by socialist party PS and greens Ecolo, on the grounds that a ban would be discriminatory. On Tuesday, Vandenbosch appealed to the parties that will form the new Brussels government to work towards a ban.

The issue continues to divide Brussels, which has a large Muslim community. Fouad Ahidar, a Muslim politician whose party won more than 16 per cent of the Dutch-speaking vote in the June elections, is vehemently opposed to a ban on slaughter without stunning.

"I can't believe that God makes animals suffer. I say this clearly as a practising Muslim"

In 2022, Ahidar was removed from Vooruit's party leadership after voting against the ban, going against the party line. "I can't believe that God makes animals suffer. I say this clearly as a practising Muslim," he said at the time.




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