The Islamic community defends the right to religious freedom after the ECHR ruling

The president of the Unió de Comunitats Islàmiques de Catalunya, Mohamed el Ghaidouni, hopes that the State and the Generalitat take into account the right to religious freedom of Muslims and Jews in the face of a possible regulation of animal sacrifice with the halal ritual and kosher.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 February 2024 Monday 22:12
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The Islamic community defends the right to religious freedom after the ECHR ruling

The president of the Unió de Comunitats Islàmiques de Catalunya, Mohamed el Ghaidouni, hopes that the State and the Generalitat take into account the right to religious freedom of Muslims and Jews in the face of a possible regulation of animal sacrifice with the halal ritual and kosher.

This was expressed in an interview with ACN after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to endorse the prohibition of this practice with the aim of protecting animal welfare was announced this Tuesday. El Ghaidouni has recognized that it is an open debate throughout Europe and has opted to find a balance. In this sense, he has defended reversible stunning, which consists of putting animals to sleep before starting sacrifice, as a possible solution.

Mohamed el Ghaidouni has assured that the debate on the sacrifice of animals with halal and kosher rites is completely “open” in Europe and has considered it “natural” that at some point this issue will also be addressed in the State and in Catalonia. “We know that there are movements that defend what we know as animal welfare and that prohibit the consumption of meat, whether by stunning or slaughter,” commented the president of the Unió de Comunitats Islàmiques de Catalunya, who recalled that Islamic jurisprudence It establishes that Muslims cannot consume meat that does not derive from the relevant sacrifice. To obtain halal or kosher meat, both Muslims and Jews kill cows, goats, sheep or birds with a cut in the neck, which bleed to death for hours.

In this context, El Ghaidouni recalled that the right to freedom of worship is included in the Constitution and the Statute of Catalonia and has stated that he trusts that both the State and the Generalitat will take into account this issue and what it means for Muslim and Jewish communities when pushing for any regulation. “We hope that the institutions, both Catalan and Spanish, seek a balance between respect for animal welfare and the right of these minority communities to be able to practice their religion within the Constitution,” he indicated.

From his point of view, the most appropriate solution would be the reversible stunning that the European Court put on the table in 2020. He explained that in Catalonia there are already some slaughterhouses that use this type of procedures, for example stunning chickens with electric currents.

However, he recalled that there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate which of the two options animals suffer less with. Thus, he has pointed out that behind this debate are the interests of meat industries that do not view these rituals favorably because "they represent that animals take longer to die and, therefore, the production chain is more expensive."

The ruling of the ECtHR sees the restriction of religious freedom that the ban entails as justified if the measure is “proportionate” and seeks to protect animal welfare. For this reason, it rules out that it entails a violation of the right to freedom of religion or discrimination against Muslims and Jews. The court based in Strasbourg has ruled on this practice following a complaint from Muslim and Jewish organizations in Belgium, where prior stunning of animals has been required since 2017.