Has Denmark placed animals over religion?
Animal welfare took precedence over religious expression in Denmark this week after it was announced on Tuesday that the slaughter of animals for halal and kosher meat was banned from the country.
Confirming the country’s unorthodox priorities of its livestock over the religious expression of its people, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion,” The Independent reported.
The change to the law, which animal rights activists pursued for years, has been called anti-Semitic by Jewish leaders and a “clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal, saying it adversely affected Muslims and Jews alike.
The group has since launched a petition against it.
Local Jewish leader Finn Schwartz denied he move was motivated by anti-Semitism while speaking with the Jerusalem Post.
However, he added, “When you have religious minorities in a society you should also respect the religious minority even if really don’t like some of the things [they] are doing. If you want to change fundamental rules that concern religious minorities then you should have an open discussion.”
The new ban also sparked unfavorable reactions from religious leaders across the region.
Israel’s deputy minister of religious services Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan told the Jewish Daily Forward that the move represented intensifying European anti-Semitism, which was “showing its true colors.”
Denmark’s ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr described the rabbi’s accusations as “very insulting.”
While European regulations require a more humane way to kill animals by stunning them before slaughter, there are exceptions on religious grounds.
For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.