Muslim and Jewish groups are angered by a call from Germany’s federal
chamber of veterinarians for a law re-establishing protection against
slaughter without stunning.
Germany’s main Jewish group rejected Wednesday, July 10, the
latest criticism of kosher slaughter practices, and was immediately
backed by a Turkish group in Germany speaking on behalf of Muslims.
Both Islam and Judaism reject the stunning of animals before
slaughter and prescribe that animals be killed by a swift throat cut.
Speaking on Germany’s main public broadcaster ARD, Ernst Breitling,
president of Germany’s federal chamber of veterinarians had earlier
called kosher and halal slaughter “cruelty to animals.”
The body has demanded a change in German law to end an exemption for
minority butchers which he said had allowed 500,000 sheep to be
slaughtered annually in this way.
Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in
Germany, dismissed the demand, saying it encouraged anti-religious
“The prevention of cruelty to animals has the highest priority in
Judaism and prevailed long before animal-protection societies and laws
existed,” he said in Berlin.
Only trained butchers were allowed to do such slaughtering and the
animal lost consciousness within seconds this way. He denied stunning
was more humane.
The Turkish Society in Germany, a secular group with mainly Muslim
members, agreed. Its president, Kenan Kolat, said in Berlin the halal
slaughter method in Islam killed animals without any cruelty.
German Agricultural Minister Horst Seehofer also rejected calls for a law against slaughter without stunnung.
“Politicians cannot ignore religious freedom,” he said, in a
reference to the fact that Federal Constitutional Law grants minorities
the right to live according to their faith among themselves if they
otherwise observe the law, as well as the right to exercise
freely their chosen profession or trade.
In 1995, the German Constitutional Court had ruled that Islam did
not necessarily demand ritual slaughter, making the practice illegal.
But in 2002, it re-established the right for German butchers to
slaughter animals according to Islamic religious ritual in a case
brought by a Turkish butcher from Giessen.