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Greece’s highest court in late October banned kosher and halal slaughter of unanesthetised livestock because it was deemed cruel to animals and thus did not deserve a religious exemption.
In effect, the court ruling codified that Greeks have no right to cause animal suffering on religious grounds. In both kosher and halal slaughter, animals are killed by throat-cutting while they’re conscious and alert.
Jewishpress.com reported that the court ruled in favor of a Penhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation petition to annul a legal exemption for slaughtering unanesthetized animals.
The ruling stressed that religious protocols for ritualistic slaughter of livestock in Islam and Judaism do not “outweigh those animals’ welfare,” the Greek Reporter reported. The court also ruled that the prior exemption violated an existing law requiring animals be slaughtered after being anesthetized or stunned.
The court directed Greek lawmakers to find a way to synthesize a balance between human religious rights and the moral and ethical rights of animals.
Quoting the Greek news outlet Protothema, the Jewishpress.com wrote:
“The government should regulate the issue of slaughtering animals in the context of worship in such a way as to ensure both the protection of animals from any inconvenience during slaughter and the religious freedom of religious Muslims and Jews living in Greece.”
The new ruling follows a similar decision in 2018 by the European Union (EU) Court of Justice holding that all member states must “reconcile both animal welfare and freedom of religion,” and a 2020 decision to ban kosher and halal slaughter. The EU and Greek rulings upheld a 2017 decision by Belgium’s Flemish government banning ritual slaughter without stunning, while the EU urged member states to “adequately and proportionately consider freedom of religion” in regulating that practice, Jewishpress.com reported.
The Greek ruling ended years of contentious conflict between animal rights activists and religious authorities demanding their religious slaughtering practices be allowed because their dogma requires it.
Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai decried the latest EU court ruling in a letter to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croix warning that it sets “an alarming precedent” that “deeply harms religious freedom in Europe,” according to Jewishpress.com.
“The Belgian court’s decision to uphold the ban on kosher slaughter deeply undermines the values of freedom of religion, equality and liberty advocated by the European Union,” Shai wrote in his letter.
What this prescribes is that religion should be allowed to trump ethics, and faith to eclipse suffering.
Another Jewish leader, European Jewish Association (EJA) chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin complained:
“Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities. As early as last December we warned about the dangerous consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling, and now we are seeing the result.”
It seems the only animals truly “under direct attack” before these rulings were animals heading to a painfully conscious death at Islamic and Jewish slaughterhouses. Now they must be humanely rendered insensible before the knife is drawn across their throats.
Greekcitytimes.com reported that animal killing is now under government oversight:
“The court has left it up to the government to regulate the relationship between animal rights and religious freedom, and they will preside over the country’s slaughterhouse practices.”
Proponents of ritual religious slaughter continue to contend that such killing is painless because the animal dies instantly. But opponents beg to differ.
“The Halal method of slaughter is considered torturous and cruel as the animal is left to die slowly and painfully, in a pool of blood, after its neck vessels are slit to drain away its life and blood,” writes Greekcitytimes.com. “Its windpipe and food pipe are also slit, mostly partially, through which the animal continuously cries out and struggles to keep alive.”
That might be debatable. But I strongly suspect that human beings, if given a choice for the same outcome, would almost certainly choose to be rendered unconscious first.
These pro-animal rights decisions in recent years up to today are encouraging in the continuing struggle to keep church and state separate in Western nations.
When religion becomes too embedded in government, bad things can happen — like official authorization for innocent animals to be purposely killed with their eyes wide open and their feelings raw.
Insert a human victim into such a scenario and it would be viewed as an unforgivable atrocity.
Greece has it exactly right.
Any modern policy that allows avoidable suffering of any animal, including humans, is immoral — whether death is the end result or not, no matter what any religious prophets may have thought centuries or millennia ago.