Muslims Unite with Jews to Defend Animal Slaughter Rites ; L Government Told to End Religious Exemption from Animal Welfare Legislation L Outlawing Halal and Kosher Meat Would Provoke Fury
Vallely, Paul, The Independent (London, England)
IT WAS business as usual yesterday at Hymarks Kosher Meats Ltd in Cheadle, one of the hubs of the Manchester Jewish community. In the cool cabinet untrussed chickens sprawled beside a selection of meats which was positively international in its range - lamb chops, marinaded steaks, pale chicken sausages, minty lamb kebabs, Italian meatballs. There was no sign of controversy, either among the customers nor the jolly chap behind the counter with a skullcap perched on the back of his head and a large red apron circumnavigating his ample girth.
Elsewhere, the world was getting altogether more exercised about what united the various kosher meats on display - the ritual method of slaughter which had brought them to the butcher's slab.
The time has come to repeal the law which exempts the products consumed by religious communities from the provisions of The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, a government advisory committee recommended yesterday.
The proposal has caused outrage among the Jewish and Muslim communities. The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), which advises the Government on how to avoid cruelty to livestock, says the way 9 million farm animals die each year to produce kosher and halal meat causes severe suffering. All slaughter without pre-stunning should be banned immediately, it has advised.
"It is not something we want to say anything about," said the man at Hymarks Kosher Meats. He did not want any hint of controversy to invade his stacks of chopped herring, pickled cucumbers and matzos.
Understandably, say animal rights activists. "Scientific research shows that animals whose throats are cut while they are fully conscious can suffer terribly over relatively lengthy periods as they bleed to death," said Peter Stevenson, political and legal director of Compassion in World Farming, which was so quick off the mark that it actually published its support the day before the report came out.
The report says: "After the cut has been made, the animal must remain restrained until it is bled out before being released, shackled and hoisted." A cow can take up to two minutes to bleed to death. "To say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous," said Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, who chaired the committee that produced the recommendations.
The ground is set for a major battle, with both Jewish and Muslim groups - in a loud and unusual union of purpose - launching a twofold defence. They produce scientists who argue that religious slaughter is, in fact, less cruel than stunning. And they ring alarm bells at what they see as an assault on religious minorities. "One of the first enactments of the Nazis in 1933 was to outlaw the Jewish method of slaughter," warned Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, registrar of the Manchester Beth Din.
The row turns on the insistence in both religions - which have common roots in acknowledging Abraham as the father of their faith - that believers should not eat meat from any animal which has undergone any harm, injury or hurt in dying. They argue that their ancient method of slaughter - severing the animal's neck and hoisting it so that all the blood drains from the body - causes the beast to feel virtually nothing.
"With a surgically sharp knife all the vessels in the neck are severed and all blood cut off swiftly from the brain so the animal loses consciousness very rapidly," said Rabbi Brodie. In London, the president of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Henry Grunwald QC, backed the opinion. "Many scientific experts have …
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Publication information: Article title: Muslims Unite with Jews to Defend Animal Slaughter Rites ; L Government Told to End Religious Exemption from Animal Welfare Legislation L Outlawing Halal and Kosher Meat Would Provoke Fury. Contributors: Vallely, Paul - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 11, 2003. Page number: 3. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.