(JTA) — The advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union advised the court to prohibit governments from banning kosher and halal slaughter.
The advice on Thursday by Gerard Hogan is “an important development that could spell the end of attempts to ban shechitah in the entire European Union,” Hans Knoop, a spokesperson for the Forum of Jewish Organizations in Belgium, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, using the Hebrew word for ritual slaughter.
Shechitah involves slashing the animal’s throat with a very sharp knife, and the Muslim variant, Dbiha, preclude stunning the animal before the slaughter. Animal welfare activists find this cruel. Opponents of Muslim immigration and of Jewish presence in Europe also protest ritual slaughter, sometimes citing animal welfare arguments.
A similar debate is taking place in Europe and beyond about the nonmedical circumcision of boys.
The Luxembourg-based court “should find that Member States are not permitted to adopt rules” […] for a prohibition of the slaughter of animals without stunning,” Hogan said.
Hogan was responding to a lawsuit last year by several Jewish groups from Belgium in the aftermath of two of the three autonomous states that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium banning slaughter without stunning.
Knoop said the position of the EU court’s judges often aligns with that of its advocate general, who acts as the court’s consultant.
The court is expected to rule on the petition sometime this year.