Photo Credit: Nati Shohat / Flash 90
Rabbis in Jerusalem examine knives used for the ancient ritual slaughtering method known as "shechita."

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg upheld a ban by two Belgian regions on kosher and halal slaughter (“shechita”) on Tuesday in a decision that has alarmed Jewish and Muslim communities alike.

Belgium’s Flemish and Wallon regions require all animals used for human consumption to be slaughtered only after using “proper stunning procedures”. Both the Jewish and Islamic faiths preclude the use of stunning prior to slaughter.


In 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that member countries may ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing on the rights of religious groups.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR is an international court whose role is to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights — a foundational accord on the protection of human rights and political freedoms — on behalf of the 46 member countries of the Council of Europe. The ruling in favor of the shechita ban is a serious development in the fight by Jewish and Muslim communities to preserve their right to ritual slaughter.

The European Jewish Congress expressed “deep concern” for the future of viable Jewish community life in Europe in response to the ruling, which the EJC said violated Article 9 and 14 under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We are already seeing attempts across Europe to follow this Belgian ban, now sadly legitimized by the ECHR,” EJC President Dr. Ariel Muzicant said.

“Jewish communities in Europe, now more than ever, need the protection of national governments and pan-European organizations to ensure that thousands of years of Jewish life on this continent do not come to an abrupt end.

“Restrictions on fundamental aspects of Jewish religious freedom of expression, coupled with a background of massive increases in antisemitic attacks on Jewish communities, lead us to seriously consider whether Jews have a future in Europe,” Muzicant warned.

“This decision proves that basic European Union legislation allowing member states to derogate from the protection of Shechita and impose selective bans does not protect minority communities in Europe and their religious practices,” he added.

“We call on the European Commission and European Parliament to enact legislation which truly protects these fundamental rights and to give real meaning to their long-stated claims that they foster Jewish life in Europe”.

Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare Ben Weyts, who belongs to the national conservative New Flemish Alliance, expressed his satisfaction with the verdict, which he said could lead the way to continent-wide ban on ritual slaughter.

“Now the door is open for a ban on ritual slaughter not only in Brussels but in the whole of Europe,” Weyts told VRT television.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.