WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Poland’s minister of agriculture said he will not bow to activists and ban ritual slaughter in the country.
Polish Agricultural Minister Marek Sawicki said May 16 that banning ritual slaughter would be contrary to the Polish Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.
"Under European Union law, ritual slaughter is acceptable and there is no reason to prohibit it," Sawicki also said.
The Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported over the weekend that one of the Polish slaughterhouses where ritual slaughter is conducted belongs to a colleague of the minister.
Polish animal rights organizations have been protesting against shechitah, or ritual slaughter, saying that animals slaughtered according to Jewish and Islamic law suffer much more than those killed in the traditional way.
The Polish Ministry of Agriculture authorized the use of ritual slaughter several years ago, but animal rights activists say that a Polish animal protection law does not allow it. Earlier this month activists asked the country’s prosecutor to investigate whether the ministry is violating the law by allowing ritual slaughter.
Under Polish law, animals must be stunned before slaughter; the only exception is ritual slaughter.
Animal rights activists also believe that allowing ritual slaughter in Poland is illegal because it is not regulated by government act but by authorization of the minister of agriculture.
Polish slaughterhouses produce meat that is sent to Israel and to Muslim countries.