New ritual slaughter regulations welcomed

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Jewish and Islamic organisations say they are pleased with the compromise regulations on ritual slaughter agreed with Deputy Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker.

Earlier today the deputy minister said he was proud of the agreement, calling it a solution that ensured that animals were slaughtered in a humane manner. The new, stricter regulations call on the slaughterer to determine if each and every animal can be ritually slaughtered, furthermore, once an animal has had its throat cut, it must lose consciousness within 40 seconds otherwise a veterinary surgeon will anaesthetise the animal.

The Torah calls on all Jews to treat animals humanely and Ronnie Eisenman, chair of Amsterdam's Jewish Community, says it is positive that all the commotion and heated arguments have led to this positive result and the confirmation of long-granted religious freedoms.

"This is a balanced decision; not only have religious freedoms and rituals been confirmed but animal welfare has also been guaranteed. We were portrayed as barbarians who brutally butcher animals; this agreement ends that negative portrayal."

Rasit Bal, chair of the Muslim and Government Contact Group, says he is happy the agreement makes it possible for Muslims to continue to practise halal ritual slaughter.

In 2011, the animal rights party presented a bill banning unstoned ritual slaughter. The lower house of parliament passed the bill but the senate rejected it. Jewish and Muslim groups were extremely surprised by the bill and called it an attempt to curtail religious freedoms.

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