Animal rights MP demands end to ritual slaughters
A leading Dutch animal rights politician Thursday (20 March) demanded that an end to be put to ritual slaughters of animals in the Netherlands, while cautioning that this stance is not meant as criticism of the Muslim and Jewish faiths. By Rachel Levy.
Marianne Thieme, leader of the Dutch Animal Party and a member of the Dutch parliament, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that ritual slaughtering was "inhumane" and caused "unnecessary" stress to animals.
Instead, she advocates that animals be made unconscious by an electric shock before they are ritually slaughtered.
Ritual slaughtering, performed by Muslims and Jews alike, involves cutting the animal's throat in a single strike. The arteries running from the brain to the spine are to be cut first.
In addition, animals are kept out of the slaughtering site until it is their turn, a practice meant to ensure they do not witness the killing of other animals before their own death.
Both Muslim and Jewish religious law prescribe this method in what is intended to minimise the animals' suffering. But Thieme, citing what she said was "academic research," claims that ritual slaughter methods actually increases the suffering.
"Ritual slaughtering is usually unsupervised and is performed by people who are insufficiently professional," she claimed.
"Whenever supervision does take place, numerous problems are found. The slaughtering process itself takes longer, causing stress to animals before being slaughtered," Thieme said, adding:
"After their throats have been cut it usually takes several minutes for them to die, particularly cows. Research demonstrates animals do experience pain after their throats have been cut. They suffer tremendously before dying."
Asked whether it was not ironic that the Animal Party is now working on "humane" methods to kill animals, Thieme said "meat consumption is a reality. We just want to ensure animal suffering is kept to a minimum."
Thieme, who has never visited a ritual slaughter house herself and does not know the difference between the ritual slaughtering practices of Jews and Muslims, says the Animal Party has launched the initiative because "the ritual slaughtering market is growing explosively. Some 2 million animals per year are being slaughtered by ritual slaughterers."
Asked how much the ritually slaughtered meat market has grown in the past ten years, Thieme admitted she did not know, and immediately adds that her activities have nothing to do with criticism of Islam or Judaism.
"The Animal Party respects freedom of religion," Thieme says.
It is not the first time a member of the Dutch parliament has raised the issue of ritual slaughtering. Several animal rights movements as well as the Dutch veterinarians association have argued for a total ban on ritual slaughtering.
In 2002, Muslims and Jews managed to prevent such a ban being imposed in the Netherlands.
There are 800,000 Muslims in the Netherlands and some 30,000 Jews, out of a population of 16.4 million. A minority of both groups eat only ritually slaughtered meat.
25 March 2008
Recommended ritual slaugher practices
[Copyright dpa 2008]