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B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is deeply dismayed at today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) allowing EU member states to impinge on ritual slaughter. The ruling grants EU countries the right to require stunning prior to the religious slaughter of animals. Pre-slaughter stunning is forbidden under traditional Jewish law. The ECJ’s decision violates the fundamental right to freedom of religion and is a blow to Europe’s Jewish community.
This morning’s ruling comes in response to the query on a preliminary ruling concerning exceptions for religious slaughter in the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia.
The court’s ruling was made in spite of the recommendations of the Advocate General (AG) to the ECJ, Gerard Hogan, who provided his official opinion by noting that such impositions would run counter to EU-law, counter to the rights of religious minorities and counter to the respect for deeply-held religious beliefs in Europe. The by-passing of the opinion of the AG is unusual.
In light of the ruling, Yohan Benizri, president of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organisations (CCOJB), the governing body of Belgian Jewry, lambasted the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, remarking that “The ECJ’s decision to ignore the AG’s recommendation, in this case, and thus allow the ban on religious slaughter is not only disappointing, but undemocratic. No democracy can exist when its citizens are denied basic human and civil rights. We plan to pursue every legal recourse to right this wrong.”
Belgium, which includes a large religiously observant community in Antwerp, is home to one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities. Such a ruling could no doubt have damaging consequences, not simply for local Jewish communities in Belgium, but for Jewish communities across the continent. B’nai B’rith has a strong and long-lasting presence in Europe and will continue to support Jewish communities across the continent in any way possible.

B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit