At the beginning of 2019, Shechitah will be outlawed in the Flanders region of Belgium. The region is home to the city of Antwerp and 60 percent of the country’s Jews, presenting a huge problem for the Jewish community throughout the region.
The law, which was passed in June 2017, requires that all animals should be stunned prior to their slaughter for humanitarian purposes. This requirement is not allowed according to the Halachos of Shechitah, thus making kosher shechitah illegal.
Since the law was passed, the Jewish community of Belgium, various federations and organizations across the country and Europe, as well as the World Jewish Congress, have fought against the law claiming that it violates EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Belgian Constitution. All three of those bodies of law guarantee the freedom of religion. In this case, that freedom is breached by making Jewish shechitah illegal.
Another region in Belgium known as the Walloon region passed a similar law in the same year. This law will come into effect in August of 2019. It too was challenged in court.
President of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, Yohan Benizri, said when the law was originally passed that: “Legislators have given Belgian Jews a worrisome political signal, by trumping their right to practice their faith, in violation of the crucial principle of separation of church and state. That’s very sad, but it is also unlawful. It is a violation of European legal norms, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and we are hopeful it will be overturned as such. If this legislation ever comes into force it would be a dark day for freedom in Belgium.”
Particularly hit hard in this new process are Mashgichim and Shochtim who will face a double burden of losing their parnassah as well as having difficulty trying to find meat to give to their families.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)