A region of southern Belgium has voted to ban kosher and halal meats by outlawing the slaughter of “unstunned” animals, several news sources have reported.
The environment committee of the Walloon Parliament gave a unanimous vote for the ban and is expected to take effect in September 2019 if approved by parliament later this year.
Animal rights campaigners argue that it is more humane to stun animals before killing them as opposed to Jewish kosher and Islamic halal rituals, which require slitting the throat of the animal and draining its blood.
Other countries including Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand already prohibit “unstunned” slaughter.
Similar legislation has been proposed by the parliament in the northern Flemish region.
In response, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) has strongly condemned the decision as “scandalous”, according to a report by the Independent.
“This decision, in the heart of Western Europe and the centre of the European Union, sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout our continent that Jews are unwanted,” EJC president Moshe Kantor said.
“It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society. It gives succour to antisemites and to those intolerant of other communities and faiths.”
The Muslim community in Belgium has also said its religious council previously opposed to stunned slaughter and has not changed its stance.
“Muslims are worried about whether they can eat halal food … in conformity with their religious rites and beliefs,” the Belgian Muslim Executive said.