(JTA) – Belgium’s far-right Vlaams Belang party said it will submit a bill proposing a blanket ban on ritual slaughter.
The Vlaams Belang made the statement Monday in reaction to a Cabinet minister’s announcement on forbidding the slaughter of animals in temporary slaughterhouses as of next year throughout most of the federal monarchy.
The new regulation announced on Sunday by Ben Weyts, Belgium’s minister for animal welfare, was disappointing and insufficient, the party said.
In a statement on its bid to ban ritual slaughter, Vlaams Belang wrote, “If the minister won’t take the initiative on this matter, Vlaams Belang will.”
Weyts’ ban was seen as designed to stop the killing of thousands of sheep in provisionary slaughterhouses that Muslims operate annually for other Muslims ahead of the Eid al Fitr holiday.
Some members of Belgium’s Jewish community said it would not affect Jewish slaughter, or shechitah, which is performed at licensed and permanent abattoirs.
Religious laws in Islam and Judaism require that animals be conscious when their necks are cut. Throughout Europe, the practice is under attack from animal rights activists who find it cruel and far-right movements that view it as an unwelcome foreign custom.
In addition to seeking to curb immigration into Belgium, Vlaams Belang is also a supporter of independence for the Flemish Region, one of the three autonomous parts that comprise Belgium.
The party won 3.7 percent of the vote in the federal elections earlier this year and 5.9 percent of the vote in the elections for the Flemish parliament. But in 2007, Vlaams Belang emerged as the country’s third largest party with nearly 12 percent of the vote in federal elections.
Virtually all other Belgian political parties consider Vlaams Belang a pariah movement and will not enter in power-sharing agreements with it, making it impossible for the party to enter the government.
Political analysts say the party has lost many votes to the center-right movement of Weyts, the New Flemish Alliance.