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Polish minister asks Jews, Muslims to sue over ritual slaughter

JTA

July 23, 2013 | 3:19 pm

A slaughterer works with beef carcasses in the Biernacki Meat Plant slaughterhouse in Golina near Jarocin, western Poland, on July 17. Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters

A slaughterer works with beef carcasses in the Biernacki Meat Plant slaughterhouse in Golina near Jarocin, western Poland, on July 17. Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters

A Polish government minister asked Jewish and Muslim representatives to petition the country’s Constitutional Court to sort out conflicting laws that have led to a ban on ritual slaughter.

According to a statement Monday by the office of Michal Boni, the Polish minister responsible for religious affairs, the minister asked the representatives to petition the court with regard to the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community.

The law appears to conflict with Article 34 of the 1997 Law on the Protection of Animals, which states that “vertebrate animal in a slaughterhouse may be killed only after being knocked unconscious by qualified personnel.”

Muslim and Jewish religious laws require animals be conscious before their necks are cut.

“The matter can only be settled by Constitutional Court,” read a statement sent from by Boni’s office.

According to the statement, Boni asked Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, and Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, to petition the court on the issue.

Boni met the two Jewish representatives Monday in Warsaw and agreed to meet with them regularly on the issue, the statement read.

A de facto ban on ritual slaughter has been in effect since January. The Polish parliament earlier this month defeated a bill that would have allowed ritual slaughter.

In 2004, the Polish government tried to reconcile the conflict by issuing a regulation exempting Jews and Muslims from stunning animals. But in November, the constitutional court ruled that the government had no legal right to issue the exemption.

Animal welfare activists deem ritual slaughter as cruel. Advocates of the practice say it is no less humane and painless than more modern methods.

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