Killing animals is controversial enough even before religion gets into the mix.
But even those who oppose killing animals for food at all will presumably accept that the cruelest slaughter is that which terrifies an animal and leaves it to bleed slowly to death.
Advocates of animal welfare who have argued against halal and kosher animal slaughter will welcome the decision by the Dutch government to enforce animal slaughter laws equally, regardless of the religion of those carrying out the slaughter.
The Dutch parliament passed a Bill in June 2011 banning the slaughter of animals unless they’ve first been stunned. The Bill, if enacted, would abolish an exemption which allowed jews and muslims to evade the animal welfare laws in the name of their religions.
While there will inevitably be protests from muslim and jewish groups, the Bill underlines an important democratic principle that there is one law for all.Religious and cultural practices cannot always be maintained as societies progress. When they conflict with national laws, the laws should take precedence – especially when matters of pain and suffering are involved.
“It’s our religion” or “It’s our cultural practice, our tradition” is an argument that is used to continue practices such as forced marriage – which inevitably means rape, marriage of children – ditto plus paedophilia, and mutilation of women’s genitals.
It is simply wrong that animals can be made to bleed slowly to death in the name of someone’s ‘god’.
People who support the democratic idea of one law for all need to resist the inevitable arguments that religious people will use to try and continue evading animal welfare laws. It shouldn’t need to be said – but these days it does – that it is not religious discrimination and it is not racist to apply animal welfare laws to all citizens of a nation. Of course there must be religious tolerance – but it shouldn’t extend to condoning cruelty to humans or animals.
New Zealand has already enforced animal welfare laws governing slaughter. Hopefully Holland will follow suit and other nations will follow their example.
Religions have changed, adapted, started up and died out throughout human history. It would be a pretty good thing if the halal and kosher / muslim and jewish way of slaughtering animals changed in the 21st century. Currently the slaughtermen mutter a quick prayer and the animals are left to bleed to death. How about the kosher and halal practices agree to stunning the animals, putting them out of their misery – and simply sticking with the prayer if it’s seen as essential?
What kind of peculiar god, one wonders, would demand that followers bleed animals slowly to death? What kind of god would exult in inflicting pain….?