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Engel, Ellison urge Dutch Senate to reject ritual slaughter ban

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish, and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is Muslim, joined to urge the Netherlands upper house not to affirm a ban on ritual slaughter.

"This bill would have a direct impact on the one million Muslims and 50,000 Jews who live in The Netherlands," said a letter the two congressmen sent Monday to Godefridus de Graaf, president of the Dutch Senate. "Both these communities stand to suffer significant hardship if this bill becomes law, and we agree with Dutch Jews and Muslims who say that such a law would curtail their religious freedoms."

The lower house of the Dutch parliament voted in June to ban the ritual slaughter of animals.

Under the bill now under consideration by the Senate, animals are required to be stunned before slaughter. Both Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter must be performed while the animal is fully conscious.

The bill was put forward by the Animal Rights Party, which claims that stunning before slaughter causes less pain to the animal. The Jewish and Muslim communities have a year to prove otherwise or the law goes into effect.

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