Oslo (Jun. 16)
The anti-schechita law, which has been passed by parliament, is opposed by the government, and during the debate, the Premier and several other Ministers urged that nothing should be done which would violate the religious feelings of the Jewish population. Nevertheless, the bill has been passed, and as things are, it is due to go into force on January 1.
The Prime Minister, M. Johann Ludwig Mowinckel, leader of the Democratic Party, said that he had always been of the opinion that the slaughtering of animals law should contain provisions for the exemption of schechita. The arguments brought against schechita had not convinced him that it was a cruel method of slaughtering. So far as he was concerned, the decisive argument was that they must have consideration for the religious feelings of the Jews. He would not regard it as right if without it being an absolute necessity, they decided to enforce slaughtering methods which would prevent people of another faith from being able to eat meat.
“We may consider their views superstitious,” he continued, “but to really religious Jews, the matter is one of immense importance. This can be seen from the numerous memoranda sent to us by the Jews in all countries, from Jewish personages whose names are known all over the world.”
He urged parliament, therefore, he concluded, on the ground of tolerance, not to prohibit schechita. They had to take into consideration also the fact that all over the country methods of slaughtering were being employed which could by no means be recommended. But the most important question of all was that they should respect the principle of religious liberty and tolerance.
Deputy Ivor Lykke, former Prime Minister, and leader of the Conservative Party, said that he was also of the opinion that the Jews should be given exemption to practice their own method of slaughtering. At the same time, he thought that they should continue to explore ways and means in order to discover a method of slaughtering which would satisfy both the religious scruples of the Jews and the requirements of humanity.
Deputy Fjaerlie, of the Democratic Party, also urged that the Jewish method of slaughtering should not be prohibited. The ordinary slaughtering methods in Norway, he said, are not so very humane. In the province of Finmark, for instance, about 15,000 animals were slaughtered every year in a most primitive and barbarous fashion. The animals were left struggling for about eight minutes before they
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were dead. And the Agricultural Committee proposed to allow this state of things to continue and to prohibit schechita.
Deputy Baeroe (Right) admitted that the method of slaughtering in the rural districts was barbarous and said that steps ought to be taken in this regard. That did not, however, make schechita any the less barbarous. A method of electrical stunning of the animals before slaughtering, he said, might solve the difficulty.
Deputy Sundberg (Peasants’ Party) said that he could not agree with what the Premier had said. The right of minorities could not be allowed to go so far. If the Jews wanted to eat meat from animals slaughtered according to their method, they were free to import it from abroad.
Deputy Skaardal (Labor Party) opposed giving exemption to schechita.
M. Aarstad, a Minister in the Government, urged them to give exemption to schechita. The law, he said, was by no means free from objection, and it would be very difficult to enforce it.
Deputy Toender (Labor Party) said that the religious views of the Jews must be respected in the same way as they wanted the Christian faith to be respected.
Deputy Soestad (Labor Party) urged that it was the duty of Parliament to respect the religious views of every people. There was no peasant, he said, who did not slaughter his animals in a cruel manner.
Deputy Kolstad (Peasants’ Party) objected to this. It was not true, he said, that all peasants were cruel to their animals.
Deputy Hundsit (Peasants’ Party) said that he too was a friend of tolerance, but this was not a matter of religious liberty. The Jews had not been invited to come to Norway, and when they were in Norway they had to abide by the laws of the country.