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Polish government to challenge kosher slaughter ban

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 16.07.2013 09:01
Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba will support Poland's Jewish and Muslim minorities in a prospective bid to reintroduce kosher and halal slaughter methods.

Minister Stanislaw Kalemba: photo - PAP/Jakub Kaminski

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Kalemba criticised Friday's vote in Poland's lower house of parliament, which rejected a repeal of the ban.

Kalemba said there were “constitutional doubts” about the ban, stressing articles in the constitution preserving the traditions of national minorities and the cultivation of rites by religious groups.

He affirmed that the minorities may now lodge a complaint with Poland's Constitutional Court, a supervisory judicial body that resolves disputes in the country's laws.

“Now the right belonfs to the religious minorities which, in accordance with the constitution, have the right to submit a complaint for non-compliance with the constitution,” he said.

“My mind is clear. In order to preserve traditions, customs, culture this law [rejected on Friday] should be adopted, allowing for slaughter as part of these rites.”

Kalemba said prior to Friday's vote that over the last few months, following the initial ban, Polish exports of meat to Israel and Islamic countries had fallen by 70 percent.

Kosher and halal slaughter methods, which involve killing livestock without prior stunning, have been illegal since 31 December 2012.

It was in fact the Constitutional Court itself that ruled against the practice in November 2012, after animal rights groups protested that the slaughter contradicted Polish laws on animal welfare.

Poland's Chief Rabbi Michal Schudrich has already threatened to step down over the issue, and Israel has said the ban is “inadmissible.”

Meanwhile, Chief Mufti of Poland Tomasz Miskiewicz, leader of Poland's Muslim Association, has released a statement on behalf of the country's Muslim community.

“This is not only a slap for us, but above all for the Polish constitution, which should guarantee religious rites of all its citizens,” the statement claimed.

“This is not democracy, it undermines the principles of respect and tolerance, prompting nationalistic and racist results, deepening divisions, and opening wounds that had healed.” (nh)

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