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The Algemeiner noted our condemnation of the Belgian Constitutional Court’s decision to uphold a ban on shechita — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for kosher consumption. This is a painful blow to freedom of religion, as well as the Jewish and Muslim communities of Belgium.
Jewish advocacy groups were dismayed, if not surprised, by the decision of Belgium’s Constitutional Court on Thursday to uphold a ban on shechita — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for kosher consumption.

The court issued a ruling affirming the legality of the Belgian ban, originally imposed in 2017, bolstered by the decision of the European Union’s highest court last December to permit EU member states to ban the slaughtering of animals without pre-stunning, despite the requirements of both Jewish and Muslim religious law on this matter.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made its determination after Belgium’s Constitutional Court referred a lawsuit, filed by the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), to determine whether the bans were lawful.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), said that while his group was “disappointed with today’s judgement, we are certainly not surprised as it upholds the status quo in Belgium.”

​Goldschmidt added that the court ruling “confirms the ban religious slaughter and brings Belgium into line with those few other countries whose bans on shechita date from the Nazi era.”

In one of the earliest legislative acts of the Nazi regime in Germany, a ban was imposed on the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning in April 1933. Nazi propaganda films routinely depicted shechita as the barbaric practice of an alien people.

Other Jewish organizations issued similar condemnations of the Belgian court’s decision.

“The decision to curb this fundamental religious practice is a painful blow to the freedom of religion and belief of the Jewish — as well as Muslim — communities of Belgium,” said Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of the Washington, DC-based B’nai B’rith International (BBI),  in a statement. “The country is home to one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities, which will now face exceedingly difficult hurdles to access kosher meat.”

Mariaschin observed that Belgium had now joined “a shameful growing list of countries putting in place barriers to religious practice.” He noted as well that the supportive ruling of the ECJ  in the Belgian case “leaves room for other governments to follow suit.”

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder said that Thursday’s court decision was “a continued maneuver to discriminate against Belgium’s Jewish and Muslim citizens.”

Said Lauder: “By prohibiting religious slaughter without stunning, the Belgium Constitutional Court has placed a potentially terminal obstacle to continued Jewish communal life in Europe.”