Monday, January 24

Muslims in Belgium ask Strasbourg Court to allow ritual animal sacrifices

Correspondent in Brussels



The organizations of the muslim community from Belgium have announced that they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the decision to ban the ritual slaughter of lambs that has been endorsed by the Belgian Constitutional Court. It is one of the thorniest issues for Muslims across Europe who once a year follow the tradition brought from the Islamic countries of slaughter a lamb beheading him as a family.

The formula required by Muslim theologians states that the animal must be fully conscious at the time of slaughter contradicts the strict European legislation on slaughterhouses according to which it must have been previously put to sleep. Several EU countries, including Austria, Slovenia, Denmark or Iceland, Norway and Switzerland among the partners, have banned this practice in parts of their territory, which also has hygiene problems.

In Belgium it has also been prohibited in Flanders and Wallonia, but in the city of Brussels the specific exemption of this prohibition is maintained for the case of the Muslim holiday, although it is mandatory to carry it out in a slaughterhouse and cannot be done in the private homes as is customary in Muslim countries. The political parties that govern the capital-region are divided and have not been able to agree one way or the other.

The Belgian Islamic community had appealed to the Belgian Constitutional Court the prohibitions imposed by the two regions and the judgment of the High Court has confirmed that the laws prohibiting this practice are in accordance with the Constitution, taking into account a previous decision of the European Court of Justice of Luxembourg that specifies that Community legislation clearly imposes the need stunning the animal before slaughtering it.

“Don’t succumb to populist pressure”

The Executive of Muslims of Belgium (EMB) and the Council of Coordination of Islamic Institutions of Belgium (CIB) have announced that they will take this legislation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) based in Strasbourg as “the highest guardian of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe” and in the hope that “this Court will make reason triumph over this issue dominated by emotional reactions.”

Representatives of Muslims in Belgium believe that “the rule of law must not succumb to increasing political and social pressure from populist movements waging a symbolic battle against vulnerable minorities across Europe.”

If the Court of Human Rights agrees to enter into this issue, it will undoubtedly be a ruling with important ramifications in all the countries of Europe, similar to the pronouncements on the islamic veil.

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