AMSTERDAM (The Blaze/AP) -- The Netherlands' parliament has passed a bill banning any slaughter of livestock without stunning (rendering the animal unconscious prior to killing it), removing an exemption that has long allowed orthodox Dutch Jews and Muslims to butcher animals according to their centuries-old dietary rules. According to The Times of India:
It stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws that require animals to be fully conscious.
Watch a report from Al Jazeera that provides background on the issue:
However, the bill, which was drafted by the Animal Rights Party (ARP), must still pass the senate and the government says it may be unenforceable in its current form. ARP is the first group of its kind in Europe to capture seats on a national parliament.
Before the bill's passage, ARP head Marianne Thieme said, "This way of killing causes unnecessary pain to animals. Religious freedom cannot be unlimited. For us religious freedom stops where human or animal suffering begins."
The threat of a ban led to outcry from Jewish and Muslim groups who say it infringes on their right to freedom of religion. They argue ritual slaughter - done by swiftly cutting animals' throats with a razor-sharp knife - is no worse than stunning. According to Chabad.org, Simon Cohen, campaign director for Shechita UK, which represents slaughterhouses in the United Kingdom, was less than pleased with the bill. He said:
"If you’re telling me that what I’m doing is cruel, then bring forth the evidence. Provided they can’t prove these methods are cruel, they have no right under Article IX of the European of Human Rights to outlaw them."
The bill passed Tuesday with support on the political left, which sees ritual slaughter as inhumane, and on the right, which sees it as foreign and barbaric.