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Op-Ed: Exposing Danish Hypocrisy

by Eli Federman - Jerusalem Post

A growing number of countries have restricted ritual slaughter under the guise of animal welfare.

Ritual slaughter, performed according to Islamic and Jewish tradition, is considered a humane method of slaughter under the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMSLA), the US federal law designed to decrease animal suffering.

In ritual slaughter, the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and vagus nerve are cut with a swift action using an extremely sharp blade, resulting in quick death.

But a growing number of countries, including Poland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, have restricted ritual slaughter, under the guise of animal welfare.

Now, starting Monday, by order of Danish Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jorgensen, Denmark is banning ritual slaughter, claiming that “Animal rights come before religion.” The ban would require stunning, a method of slaughter not permitted under Jewish or Islamic law (some authorities permit reversible stunning, such as electrostunning, prior to the cut).

Claiming animal welfare as a basis to restrict humane Jewish and Islamic slaughtering practices is wrong, and is a further erosion of religious liberties in a country already attacking other religious rituals, including circumcision.

Denmark allows traditional hunting. With hunting, animals are shot at a distance, and can end up wounded, and suffering, for hours before death. Hunting is certainly more painful than religious slaughter, which renders the animal almost immediately unconscious.

The hypocrisy is even more glaring given that Denmark is the number one farmed mink producer in the European Union, with around 14 million mink killed for fur every year. In addition to the unnatural, painful and agonizing confinement of these wild animals, the methods of killing them are far crueler than a slit to the throat.

These include “breaking the animal’s neck, gassing, lethal injection, genital electrocution and anal electrocution.”

Minister Jorgensen claims that slaughter “must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.” Contrary to Jorgensen’s sweeping assertions, there is nothing cruel about the age-old practice of killing animals with a swift cut to the throat. Neurophysiological research also disputes Jorgensen’s claims. For example, a study in the Veterinary Record concluded that ritual slaughter “is a painless and humane method of animal slaughter.”

Stunning is not foolproof either. When the machinery fails, the animals suffer.

The Torah and Koran both require that animals be treated compassionately and humanely prior to and during slaughter.

By claiming that animal rights conflict with religion, Jorgensen demonstrates an anti-religious bias and complete misunderstanding of Abrahamic religions.

Ritual slaughter is not cruel. Abrahamic traditions have prohibited animal cruelty thousands of years before modern civilization even started passing laws on humane animal treatment.

If Denmark is really concerned about animal welfare it should be focusing on humane husbandry practices that prevent animal suffering in cattle and fur farms, not on targeting a humane ritual slaughtering method.

The author has written for USA Today, Forbes, Huffington Post, Fox News and other publications on religion, culture, business and law. Follow him on Twitter @EliFederman.


  • 3. pra wrote:

    I don’t understand what you’re asking, #2….who will be the one to tell who , all that.
    If this is posted (FB) and circulated by email, etc, then it will get around. Just keep it going.

  • 4. Andrea Schonberger wrote:

    Absolutely 100% right on the nose. Hunting is definitely a cruel “sport” and the way those fur bearing animals are treated is totally inhumane. People who engage in such activities ought to be whipped in public.

  • 5. Montrealer thinks wrote:

    The English cherish their fox hunts. The French heartlessly throw live lobsters into boiling pots of water. Sub-Asian countries employ elephants for hard labour. China and other Oriental countries encourage poaching with their lust for ivory tusks; shark fins and whale meat, amongst others. Many western countries allow animals to by used in circus acts.
    Do we live in a faltche velt or what??!

  • 6. CR wrote:

    “Minister Jorgensen claims that slaughter “must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.” ”

    The lie is put to this in numerous animal welfare articles collected by Temple Grandin and posted on her website. Expert shechita renders an animal immediately insensate 96% of the time. Captive bolt stunning, the preferred method at most abbatoirs, has an almost identical success rate. The “animal welfare” argument for requiring stunning is based on a myth.


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