Menu JTA Search

EJC president: Rabbis, imams must compromise on religious rites

PARIS (JTA) – The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, urged dozens of imams and rabbis to accept “compromises” in negotiating religious liberties in Europe.

“We are ready to compromise in dialogue with European leaders,” Kantor said Tuesday at a event attended by dozens of Muslim and Jewish religious leaders in Paris. Recent compromises are “a good model to build on,” he added.

Kantor referenced a controversial deal recently reached in the Netherlands on ritual slaughter. Ratified in June by the Dutch Senate, it set a time limit on how long an animal is left to die after its throat is cut in ritual slaughter, among other stipulations. Judaism and Islam require animals be fully conscious when slaughtered — a practice that animal rights activists call cruel.

Though other rabbis approved the deal, the chief rabbi of Amsterdam, Aryeh Ralbag, and other prominent rabbis criticized it as “interference” by the Dutch government. But Kantor said that “I hope this model will be adopted by all countries of good will.” He added that Muslims and Jews "should never agree to change their faiths."

EJC organized the event, the Second Gathering of European Jewish and Muslim Leaders, with the Great Mosque of Paris and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. At the conference, extremism and “attacks against religious expression across the European continent” will be discussed, EJC said in a statement.

The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, said that “Historically, Islamophobia is connected to the twin bombings of 2001, but it found justification in the book of Samuel Huntington, ‘Clash of Civilizations.’ ” He added that Muslims must reject extremist Salafites.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, said that “since 9/11, American Muslims have been vilified and targeted.” American Jewry was the first to speak out against some expression of Islamophobia, he added.

NEXT STORY