WARSAW Nov 30 Poland is to draft new laws so
that it does not have to stop slaughterhouses from producing
kosher meat, a prospect that has angered the Jewish community in
the country where Nazi Germany massacred millions of Jews during
World War Two.
The constitutional court ruled this week that kosher
slaughter methods, which involve killing livestock while they
are still conscious, contravened a Polish law which states
animals must be stunned before slaughter.
The agriculture ministry said in a statement it "has taken
actions to prepare legal solutions," that would amend the
current animal protection law and allow the practice to continue
"I believe this it is the only way to get out of the current
legal impasse," said Piotr Kadlcik, the head of the Union of
Jewish Communities of Poland. "We will be fully satisfied when
shechita (kosher slaughter) is legal again."
Some Polish abattoirs have been slaughtering animals without
stunning them for Jewish customers and also for Muslims, whose
halal butchery techniques are similar.
They were able to do this because the government had issued
a ministerial decree waiving the requirement that livestock be
stunned, but the court said the waiver was unlawful and would no
longer apply from Dec. 31 this year.
The case was referred to the court after representations
from animal rights activists, who say kosher and halal slaughter
practices are unnecessarily cruel.
Jewish groups said the ruling threatened their right to
freely practise their faith. Some Jewish community leaders said
the tone of the debate around the issue echoed the kind of
anti-Semitic rhetoric seen in Europe before World War Two.
Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before
the outbreak of war in 1939, but the Holocaust all but wiped it
out. Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka
were located on Polish soil.
The Polish dispute over kosher meat has echoes of a case in
neighbouring Germany this year.
There, a court ruling outlawing circumcision of young boys
on medical grounds raised an outcry from Jews and Muslims, who
said it curtailed their religious freedom. The German ruling is
to be overturned by new legislation.
(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Writing by Christian Lowe;
Editing by Sophie Hares)