Dutch set to block animal slaughter ban


The Dutch senate is set to reject next week a proposed law banning ritual slaughter of animals, which has drawn fierce opposition from Muslim and Jewish groups.

During a debate late yesterday, party factions representing a majority in the senate said they would vote against the bill proposed by the small Dutch Animal Rights Party.

The bill stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws that require animals to be fully conscious.

The lower house of parliament passed the bill June but without senate approval it will fail.

The labour party, which backed the ban in the lower house, declared it would reject the bill in next week's vote as it hurts freedom of religion.

"This is too much of an ad hoc solution and a symbolic law, and our faction unanimously cannot support the proposed law," labour senate member Nico Schrijver said.

The Dutch Animal Rights Party, the first such group in Europe to win seats in a national parliament, says religious slaughter causes unnecessary pain to animals.

But Dutch Muslims, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin, have complained they felt stigmatised by the planned ban, debated amid growing support for anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders.

The Freedom Party of Wilders, who was cleared by a court in June of charges of hate speech against Muslims, will support the ban in the senate, a party spokesman said.

European Union regulations require animals to be stunned before killing but allow exceptions for ritual slaughter, which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled is a religious right.