Does Animal Welfare Trump Religious Liberty? The Danish Ban on Kosher and Halal Butchering
16 San Diego International Law Journal 341 (2015)
40 Pages Posted: 7 May 2014 Last revised: 24 Jun 2015
Date Written: 2015
Western European governments since the eighteenth century Enlightenment have frequently enacted laws and regulations that have adverse effects (sometimes intended) on traditional Jewish ritual practices, including Sabbath observance, dress, and dietary practices. Often these regulations have been adopted in the name of sparing animals from the purportedly cruel and inhumane methods used in the Jewish ritual slaughtering of cattle. Last February, the Danish Ministry of Food and Agriculture issued regulations that require the stunning of cattle before they can be slaughtered. Defended on the grounds of animal welfare, the regulations had the foreseen effect of precluding the use of traditional Jewish – and most Muslim – ritual slaughtering practices, which forbid pre-slaughter stunning. This paper examines the Danish ban in light of the centuries-long history in Scandinavia and elsewhere in northern Europe of enacting “hygienic” and “humane” legislation of this type. The paper concludes that the regulation does little or nothing to promote animal welfare and is in fact probably a reflection of Danish society’s unease with the country’s growing Muslim population.
Keywords: religious liberty, religious tolerance, religious discrimination, animal law, religious rituals, Muslims in Europe, Danish slaughtering rules
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