(JTA) — A bill that would ban kosher slaughter is set to be presented to the Dutch Parliament.
If the legislation passes, it would make Holland the first European Union country to ban shechitah, according to the European Jewish Congress.
Shechitah is permissible under European law and to ban it goes against the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights, which clearly states that there is freedom of religious practice.
The EJC on Feb. 18 called on Dutch politicians to vote against the bill.
“Holland has always presented itself as an accepting society and a ban on a central part of Jewish identity would mean that Dutch politicians are turning their backs on the tolerant Holland that we admire,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said in a statement.
“While the legislation was drafted ostensibly because of animal rights concerns, it is a slippery slope to populism, extremism and anti-Semitism,” Kantor continued. “We call on Dutch politicians to carefully consider the ramifications of this bill and what it could do to Jewish life in Holland.”
The European Union Council in December 2010 rejected a controversial kosher meat labeling requirement as part of its new food information regulation, that would have required that all meat and meat products that are kosher slaughtered to be pejoratively labeled as "meat from slaughter without stunning."
A controversial ban on kosher slaughter put in place by New Zealand’s agriculture minister was partially reversed last November amid allegations that his decision was taken to appease Muslim countries that have lucrative trade relations with New Zealand. The ban on kosher slaughter of poultry was suspended, while the ban on beef remains.
The amendment to the Commercial Slaughter Code mandates that all animals for commercial slaughter must first be stunned, which is forbidden in shechitah.