Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Isaac Herzog

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog on Monday sent a letter to the president of the Belgian regional parliament of Wallonia in an appeal to lift the ban on Jewish ritual slaughter in the region.

The ban was initially legislated in 2017 and included both Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. The law came into effect at the beginning of September.

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The Jewish Agency said in a statement the legislation had been the cause of  “grave concern,” as the Jewish Agency is the organization “mandated with ensuring the spiritual and physical well-being of Jewish communities throughout the globe.”

The statement continued to say that “the Jewish Agency views the ban as an indication of a dangerous erosion of freedom of religion for Jews in Belgium.”

The ban on ritual slaughter in the French-speaking region of Wallonia is currently being enforced. However, a court ruling on the issue is pending an appeal. A similar law was passed in July 2018 by the Flemish-speaking Flanders regional parliament in Belgium.

Herzog said he opposed the legislation as part of a general concern for religious rights. “This is not only an issue of freedom of practice for traditional Kosher butcheries…. This is an unacceptable infringement of general freedom of religion,” he said.

He warned that “this could indeed be the beginning of a creeping expulsion of Jews,” and called upon the regional parliament of Wallonia to “do your utmost in order to attempt to roll back this legislation so as to find the right balance between animal rights… and freedom of religion.”

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