(Brussels, Wednesday, November 29, 2017) – The European Jewish Congress (EJC) fully and unequivocally supports the Belgian Jewish community’s filing of a lawsuit to Belgium’s Constitutional Court, challenging a law passed earlier in the year in the country banning the kosher slaughter of animals.

The Parliaments of both the Wallonia and Flanders regions, the two largest in Belgium, passed laws designed to outlaw religious slaughter, which includes kosher and halal slaughter. In May, the Wallonia parliament voted unanimously to ban the traditional methods of religious slaughter. The parliament in Flanders, where half of Belgium’s Jews live and where the majority of Belgium’s kosher facilities provide meat for Jewish communities in Belgium and beyond, followed suit in July.

“This regulation is against religious freedom, European law and an impediment to Jewish life in Belgium,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said. “This law should be struck down as unconstitutional, unfair and sends a chilling message to Belgian Jews that they may be welcome in the country but they must give up their practices and traditions, which is unconscionable in a diverse and multicultural society.”

“We will continue to support our affiliate, the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), until this outrageous law is struck from the legal books.” Kantor added.

Yohan Benizri, President of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB) added “Irrespective of its justification, a ban on kosher meat production sends a message to Belgian Jews that they can choose between living in Belgium and practicing their religion, but they cannot do both. It sends a clear message to Belgium’s Jewish and Muslim communities that they are not welcome here. This is a violation of Belgian constitutional principles, EU law, and the freedom of religion enshrined as a fundamental right – we will challenge it as such, in Wallonia and in Flanders.”