Polish Parliament votes to uphold ban on Kosher slaughter

Decision harms both Jews, Muslims. “The completely untrue idea that such slaughter is cruel, or even intentionally cruel, has triumphed,” said Polish Jewish community leaders.



The Polish parliament voted on Friday to uphold a ban on Kosher slaughter in the country. A government sponsored bill aimed at legalizing the practice of shechita, Hebrew for ritual slaughter, was shot down in the Sejm in a vote of 222 to 178.

shechita ritual

shechita ritual – Photo: Nati Shohat/Vosizneias.com

The ban went into effect in January. Combined with a decline in meat exports due to Poland’s implication in the European-wide horse meat scandal, the end of local ritual slaughter has caused harm to the eastern European country’s cattle ranchers and exporters.

In 2012, Poland’s supreme court ruled that an exemption for religious Muslims and Jews in a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter was “unconstitutional.”

Lawmakers who opposed the bill said they did so because kosher slaughter is cruel to livestock.

“The completely untrue idea that such slaughter is cruel, or even intentionally cruel, has triumphed,” Piotr Kadlčik, President of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, and Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich said in a statement.

The Polish ban, they lamented, is now the first in the European Union that is not the direct result of “Nazi-era regulations.”

Calling the ban a direct infringement on the religious liberties of Muslims and Jews, Schudrich and Kadlčik said that followers of these two faiths will now “be forced to either buy more expensive imported meat, or endorse an enforced vegetarianism.”

The two noted that “Polish legislation does not ban practices such as hunting, in which animals are being made to suffer for pleasure. The right to this pleasure is now, in the Polish legal system, ranked higher than the basic religious freedoms of two non-Christian confessions. It is therefore difficult not to see, in the decision of the Polish Sejm, the sinister hypocrisy which usually masks the discrimination against a part of the citizenry. The majority, whose rights remain intact, should nonetheless be aware that the violation of minority rights usually bodes ill to those of the others.”

Usually, slaughterhouses stun livestock before killing them, while kosher rites demand an animal is killed by slitting its throat while it is alive and allowing it to bleed to death. The halal meat consumed by observant Muslims is killed the same way.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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