Greece Bans Kosher and Halal Slaughter

On Tuesday, October 26, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece banned kosher and halal slaughter methods. These forms of ritual slaughter are religious requirements for Jews and Muslims. Both ways require animals to be slaughtered without anesthesia.

The decision came after the Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation requested to repel an exemption in the law for religious slaughter practices. Greece's court ruled that the traditional preparations required by Jews and Muslims before consuming meat do not outweigh animals' welfare.

The Greek court's decision also follows the December ruling of the European Court of Justice that pushes European Union member states to include stunning animals before slaughter to promote the minimum pain an animal has to endure when slaughtered.

Kosher and Halal and other methods of ritual slaughters have been an increasingly debated animal welfare issue in Europe. Before the EU court's December decision, most countries in Europe offered exceptions to laws that implement conventional slaughter methods. Traditional slaughter methods mainly apply the humane slaughtering practices that use stunning to minimize animal suffering.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA), slammed Greece's order. He said that "Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe;" this is coming from the "very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities," he added.

Margolin's statement referred to the EU's strategy released this year. The document called strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life was released after the EU's ruling caused a cascade of Kosher and Halal slaughter bans all over Europe. "We warned about the dangerous consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling, and now we are seeing the result," Margolin said. "It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus, and is now Greece's turn," citing the states that responded to the EU court's ruling.

Although the Greek court did not cite the EU court's ruling, which upheld Belgium's ban on ritual slaughter, Jewish watchdogs claim that the two are connected.

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