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A region in the south of Belgium has banned halal and kosher slaughter in a move which has been condemned as 'the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation'.
The Walloon Parliament passed a bill unanimously and it is expected that similar bills could be rolled out across country.
Halal (Muslim) and kosher (Jewish) meat requires the fully-conscious animals to have their throats slit in a ritual slaughter to drain their blood.
Many in religious circles have deemed the move as 'scandalous' but animal right activists support the move and say that stunning the animals, before death, is a more humane way to kill them.
The law will be implemented in September 2019 across the region, which includes cities such as Liege and Charleroi.
Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent are north of the Walloon region, in the Flemish section, and will have a similar ban come into play in January 2019.
The European Jewish Congress' president, Moshe Kantor, told The Independent that it sends a message to Jewish communities throughout Europe that Jewish people are unwanted.
He said: "It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society.
"We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in World War Two."
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The regional minister of animal welfare, Ben Weyts, previously spoke of approval before the legislation was brought in, saying that kosher and halal slaughters are old-fashioned.
"Unstunned slaughter is outdated," Weyts said. "In a civilised society, it is our damn duty to avoid animal suffering where possible."
The Belgian Muslim Executive have also spoken on the issue, and said in a statement: "Muslims are worried about whether they can eat halal food in conformity with their religious rites and beliefs."
People objecting the ban have been quick to point out that Belgium is home to the Council of the European Union.
Article nine of the European Convention On Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
"Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
Source: The Independent
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