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Imam blames 'arson attack' on halal slaughter row

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 16.10.2013 11:59
A Polish imam has claimed an alleged arson attack on a mosque was 'revenge' for the Chief Mufti of Poland's pledge to continue the banned practice of halal slaughter.

The Gdansk mosque as photographed on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Adam Warzawa

A fire began at the mosque in Gdansk, northern Poland, at about 4.40 am local time on Wednesday, damaging doors and parts of the elevation.

The incident coincided with the holiday of Eid-al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, one of the two most important religious observances for Muslims.

The fire followed angry exchanges between Polish Tatars and animal rights activists on Tuesday in the village of Bohoniki in the Podlasie region of north eastern Poland.

Chief Mufti of Poland Tomasz Miskiewicz had pledged that ritual slaughter would continue there this year, in spite of a state-imposed ban.

“I am 100 percent certain that this arson was an act of revenge for what happened yesterday in Podlasie,” Gdansk imam Hani Hraish told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

“We have been striving for positive relationships with everyone... in recent years,” he said.

“We have always had positive reactions, and now something like this happens.”

Initial estimates for covering the cost of the damage are 50,000 zloty (12,000 euro).

Slaughter of animals without prior stunning was made illegal from 1 January 2013, after animal rights activists lobbied for the matter to be taken to Poland's Constitutional Court.

In July, MPs voted down a draft amendment to the law on animal protection that would have allowed for the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, if carried out so as to follow religious customs.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk supported the amendment, and Minister of Administration and Digitalisation Michal Boni has encouraged Poland's Muslim community to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. Poland's Union of Jewish Religious Communities has already done so.

Poland has a small but centuries old community of Tatars in the Podlasie region, numbering about 5000.

All in all, it is estimated that over 25,000 Muslims currently live in Poland, including foreign students, diplomats, businessmen and refugees. (nh)

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