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March 6, 2020 1:56 pm

Highest EU Court to Hold Hearings on Belgian Kosher Slaughter Ban

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

The parliament in Belgium’s Wallonia region voted for a ban on kosher and halal slaughter in 2019. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The European Court of Justice is to open hearings into the legality of measures adopted by Belgium’s Flanders and Wallonia regions effectively banning Shechita — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for meat consumption — the main Belgian Jewish representative organization announced on Friday.

The court — the supreme authority on disputes concerning European Union law — will hear parties to the appeal on April 21 in Luxembourg, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB) said in a statement.

EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorized slaughterhouses.

The CCOJB said it would present its position during the hearings. The court will be asked to address issues concerning the competence of national governments to supersede EU legislation, freedom of religion, the neutrality of the state and fundamental rights.

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The ban, initially legislated in 2017  to prevent both Jewish and Muslim methods of animal slaughter, has been in effect since Sept. 1, 2019. In a letter sent to the president of the Belgian regional parliament of Wallonia immediately after the measure was passed, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog slammed what he called “an unacceptable infringement of general freedom of religion.”

Wrote Herzog: “We thought that restrictions on the practice of religion belonged to Europe’s history, not to its present and even less so to its future.”

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