A bill which would ban halal and kosher slaughter methods has passed through the Dutch parliament, despite opposition from Muslim and Jewish groups who say a ban would impinge on their religious freedoms. The bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by parliamentarians on Wednesday, still has to pass through the Dutch senate, which is unlikely before the summer recess.

If the Netherlands outlaws procedures that make meat kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, it would be the second country after New Zealand to do so in recent years. Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland also ban religious slaughter.

Both halal and kosher slaughter rules prescribe that animals' throats must be cut swiftly with a razor-sharp knife while they are still conscious, so that they bleed to death quickly.

COMMENT: It is overwhelmingly believed by the native peoples of Western Europe that halal and kosher slaughter is more cruel than current secular methods of slaughter. It is also generally agreed by all citizens of Western Europe (bar a few psychos and far too many blood sport enthusiasts) that if an animal is to be slaughtered for human consumption then it should be done in the most humane way that is feasibly available. This is a moral matter.

Most of us who hang around this Neighbourhood believe that it is cruel to bar same sex couples from the right to marry. We believe that doing so is inhumane and that no religious belief should get in the way of getting rid of the pain suffered by same sex couples who are not allowed to marry at present.

Therefore, any regular reader of this blog should agree wholeheartedly with the Dutch decision.



  1. Hmmm. I have some problems with this, because 1) it certainly infringes on religious freedom (I have similar issues with the French banning headscarves and the San Franciscans banning male circumcision), and 2) it sounds as if we don’t really know how inhumane the practice really is: it’s supposed to result in a very swift death for the animals involved. I suppose I’d feel differently if there were incontrovertible proof that the practice was perfectly ghastly for the animals involved: I mean, I get that *female* circumcision, even if religiously prescribed, is simply beyond the pale; and I would certainly have major issues if modern-day Aztecs or Carthaginians started demanding human sacrifice but generally I think religious freedom should mean avoiding bans on religiously prescibed traditions and rituals.

  2. What you need to do Metella is to imagine somebody coming up behind you and slitting your throat. I’ve seen it done in films and slowly drowning in your own blood does appear to be a little unpleasant.

    Religious freedom? We don’t allow Satanists to sacrifice virgins, do we?

  3. MP, see my point about Aztecs and Carthaginians. The thing is, it’s supposed to be quick. And I don’t think Orthodox Jews or Muslims are in any way approaching Satanism. Though I’m awfully glad Gerry’s not Orthodox, or very observant at all– the only dietary disagreements we have tend to involve whether jalapeno cheddar bagels are an affront to a great baking tradition– I couldn’t cook for him if he were.

    I suppose if one thinks about it much, there’s no good way to slaughter an animal period, and we should all be vegetarians. However, I do like a good steak, and I’m not ready to give it up…

  4. Yes, but have you seen how meat packing plants slaughter the animals… If this is about “humane slaughter” (like what would that be, aerial precision bombing?) than they should target the meat packing plants first…or better yet, simply outlaw the slaughter of meat animals completely…

    wv: (?) morswel “I’ll have a nice little morswel of that tender beef, it was slaughtered while under sedation…

  5. It’s quick, Metella. For a cow, quite a bit longer than for a human being. So, I would guess about two minutes. But it’s the unpleasantness of drowning in your own blood for that period of time that is the worst bit (for a human at least but I expect it’s no better for cows).

  6. Yes, Renz. But my post is about pure morality. The policing of our slaughterhouses is a different subject on which I am sure I would agree with you. I avoid much of the moral dilemma by buying locally slaughtered meat.

  7. This

    It is overwhelmingly believed by the native peoples of Western Europe that halal and kosher slaughter is less cruel than current secular methods of slaughter.

    then this?

    Therefore, any regular reader of this blog should agree wholeheartedly with the Dutch decision.

    I’m honestly confused.

  8. Well, do we know that the kosher butchers don’t string the animals up and then slice the throat? Not that it’s much better, clearly the animal is a bit stressed once they are hanging by a back leg…and it can’t feel too good either…

    But I still don’t understand – is this whole issue surrounding “animal cruelty” or is it something else, like hygenic conditions or what?

  9. Chiliah left a 3rd world shithole because it was too crowded and too poor and too corrupt; how lucky we are to have people like this from such obviously successful societies to tell us what to do!

    MP I received an email notification that Anonymous had left this comment on your ‘Troll’ post. However, it doesn’t appear to be there. You may have removed it. I think Troll is referring to me but has misspelt my name.

  10. OK supposedly this post is about the *morality* of the issue.

    Well, if we are going to go there, let me ask you this: is it moral to slaughter an animal at all and eat it? It has as much right to its life and hide as I have to mine.

    If we’re going to talk about the morality of killing another sentient being, why not just skip it all and go vegan?

  11. Oh, and I’m not really inclined to agree with the Dutch decision, and yeah, this is going to involve the “slippery slope” argument, but what the hey. If you start here, what else will be banned? Since when was it moral for the law to interfere with religious practice? Is religious practice/canon law subject to temporal human law? Since when? Who decided this, and why was their decision the one that was taken into account? What makes them so special?

    et cetera

  12. No, it’s not about the morality of the issue. It’s about the accepted morality of geographically located cultures.

    And, of course, the law interferes with religious practice. If the pope decided to send the Inquisition back into Spain with instructions to torture heretics, the Spanish police would interfere pretty damn quick. And I doubt if you would be backing the Inquisition, Tracie.

  13. Of course, I removed it, Cheliah. And I blocked the ip address he was using. He will just get a new address – he always does. But it will have annoyed him.

  14. I’ve just been looking into this. I’m not sure about the kosher regulations, and what little I’ve managed to find out suggests this may be a problem for Jews. However, most Islamic scholars do accept stunning, and the great majority of halal meat slaughtered in the UK is stunned. If Dutch practices are different, they could probably be brought into line fairly quickly. See, for instance, this page: .

  15. Depends on whether or not said inqusition was religious or secular in nature (you can have secular inquisitions, you know), and if it was religious, which religion it was doing it, etc. Ya gotta take all these factors into consideration when you’re trying to figure out which horse to bet on.


  16. And really, I don’t back this kind of ruling such as the Dutch have done because, well, there are some Heathen groups that do ritual animal slaughter, even here in the US. It’s just part of the tradition. We have never done it, but then again we do not live on our own farm, with our own animals, and we do not have any kind of experience in animal slaughter at all. We leave that to those people who are experienced in this kind of thing. I say this should be protected by law.

    I do not know if there are any Native American practices that also involve ritual animal slaughter; I haven’t heard of any, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t done or weren’t done at some point.

    Also, the practices of other minority religions that occasionally engage in ritual animal slaughter, like Santeria or Voudoun, should be protected by law.

    Heathens, Santerians, Natives and Vodoun folk have not done anything to warrant having their religious traditions limited by secular law. I don’t see why Jews or Muslims should be treated any differently.

  17. Here in the US we’d say this is skating a line of violating separation of church and state.

    Besides, if the Dutch want to outlaw some kind of ritual practice, why don’t they start with the mutilation of infant boys that most Jews and Christians (and for all I know Muslims and even secularists) go through – you know, circumcision? Did the baby ask for that? Hell no. I say they’re wasting their time on kosher and halal stuff when they could be paying attention to something that harms a human baby.

  18. Harm a human baby? I hope you are not suggesting we restrict the rights of African animists to make charms out of sacrificed baby bones. That would be so illiberal.

  19. Since most Muslims don’t seem to have a problem with animal stunning (not touching Kosher in this comment), this is not about the animals, its about anti-religious sentiment.

  20. MadPriest, link did not work for me. Tracie, coming from a small part of Africa I am interested in how negative stuff is reported as covering all Africa but when it is good stuff it is very specific and a country is identified.

  21. I most certainly didn’t mean to imply this goes on in all Africa. It definitely happens in Uganda and, if I remember correctly, a southern region of the Ivory Coast. All the reports I have read have come from the governments of the African countries themselves because, of course, they find the practice as barbaric as the rest of us and very embarrassing. The BBC report is simply an account of what the Uganda government is trying to do to stamp out the practice.

    There have been cases of people in South Africa buying charms containing sacrificed children’s bones. Is it called “ju ju?”