Last week, after nearly four years of litigation supported by The Lawfare Project in collaboration with the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB), Belgium’s Constitutional Court upheld its discriminatory ban on shechita — the ritual practice of slaughtering animals without pre-stunning, which is required to produce kosher and halal meat. Meat that is not kosher cannot be consumed by observant Jews.
The shameful decision followed an equally disgraceful ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), issued in December 2020, which held that the shechita prohibition was compatible with EU law.
Belgium has failed its Jewish communities. The Constitutional Court's decision flagrantly disregards the fundamental rights of minorities and directly restricts their religious freedoms. Moreover, despite purported concern for animal welfare in relation to slaughter without pre-stunning, both the Constitutional Court and CJEU have willingly allowed the hunting and killing of animals at "cultural or sporting events" — despite that the animals are not stunned prior to being killed. Their rationale? Hunting is part of European tradition. The inescapable takeaway is that, in the opinion of the courts, European "tradition" does not include a fundamental practice of Jews who have been present in the region for thousands of years.
Yohan Benizri, President of the CCOJB, said: "Of course this is disappointing for religious communities, but this is mostly a shame for our country. We are back to square one: are we to accept that hunting is permitted for cultural reasons in this country while a millennial presence in the region would not justify a similar exception? What a moral defeat for our institutions. This is not over. Legally and politically, we will continue fighting this. This is a question of principles."
The Lawfare Project and our partners in Belgium will not sit idly and allow this injustice to stand. We now have the opportunity to take escalate this matter to the European Court of Human Rights, which has recognized that kosher slaughter is "an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion."
The Lawfare Project is the only organization in the world dedicated to enforcing and protecting the civil and human rights of the Jewish people via strategic legal actions. For more information about The Lawfare Project visit https://www.thelawfareproject.org.