Swiss keep kosher slaughter ban

BERN, March 18 (JTA) — Switzerland has decided not to ease a ban on kosher slaughter. But the Swiss government did promise Swiss Jewish leaders last week that the import of kosher meat will be guaranteed by law, according to a spokeswomen for Economy Minister Pasqual Couchepin. "The decision was made in close cooperation with the Swiss Federations of Jewish Communities," the spokeswoman told JTA. In the meeting with Jewish leaders, the government promised to use all its influence to turn down a referendum submitted by an animal rights group that wants to ban the import of kosher meat altogether. "We reached a traditional Swiss compromise that will ensure the supply of kosher meat on stable basis in the future," Dennis Rhein, general secretary of the Jewish federations, said. The Swiss government had considered legalizing kosher slaughter, but changed its tack in the face of a strong public reaction that had anti-Semitic overtones, government sources told JTA. "Our main objective is to ensure the supply of kosher meat to our community," Rhein said. "If we can reach this without ugly anti-Semitic reactions," it´s better. Alfred Donath, president of the Jewish Federations, said the law forbidding kosher slaughter is discriminatory and a violation of human rights and religious freedom. The government agrees, Donath said, but the Swiss public apparently does not.

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