Dutch Move Toward Ban on Ritual Slaughter of Animals

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The Dutch parliament has taken a step toward a ban on the ritual slaughter of livestock, a move vocally opposed by the country's Muslim and Jewish minorities.

The lower house of parliament voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would ban killing animals without first stunning them. The bill still must be approved by the upper house before becoming law.

The measure, supported by the country's small Animal Rights Party, would remove an exemption that has allowed Muslims and Jews to butcher animals according to the centuries-old dietary rules. Ritual slaughter rules say that animals' throats must be be cut swiftly while the animals are still conscious.

If the law is enacted and enforced, the religious groups say that observant Muslims and Jews would have to import meat from abroad, stop eating it altogether or leave the Netherlands.

New Zealand, Switzerland and the Scandinavian and Baltic countries have similar rules.

The Netherlands has about 16 million residents, about one million of whom are Muslims and 40,000 Jewish.