EJC President Kantor calls EU Court of Justice ruling “a heavy blow to Jewish life in Europe”

(Thursday, December 17, 2020) – European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor has slammed the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which allows member states to permit the requirement of stunning before religious slaughter of animals for meat, as a fundamental attack on the basic rights of Jewish religious expression and practice.

The Court was responding to the question on a preliminary ruling by the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia (and, by extension, other European authorities) to make EU-law based religious slaughter exception meaningless by banning religious slaughter.

“The right to practice our faith and customs, one which we have been assured over many years was granted under European law, has been severely undermined by this decision,” Dr. Kantor said.

“This ruling is a heavy blow to Jewish life in Europe and in essence tells Jews that our practices are no longer welcome. Telling Jews that their ways are not welcome is just a short step from telling Jews that we are no longer welcome.”

“We will continue to fight this tragic decision”, Dr. Kantor added, “Europe’s Jewish communities will not rest until our fundamental rights are asserted and protected under the full weight of European law.”

“There is no justice in this ruling which even Advocate General (AG) to the CJEU Gerard Hogan said was against the rights of religious minorities in his opinion to the court.” Dr Kantor concluded.

Hogan had, in September, in his official opinion to the court, called to “respect the deeply held religious beliefs of adherents to the Muslim and Jewish faiths by allowing for the ritual slaughter of animals in this manner.”

Yohan Benizri, president of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organisations (CCOJB), the governing body of Belgian Jewry, and vice president of the European Jewish Congress also decried the decision.

“The CJEU’s decision to ignore the AG’s recommendation in this case and thus allow the ban on religious slaughter is not only disappointing, but undemocratic,” Benizri said. “No democracy can exist when its citizens are denied basic human and civil rights. We plan to pursue every legal recourse to right this wrong.”

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