Yesterday’s vote in the Dutch parliament to ban the no-stun slaughter of livestock could halt production of kosher and halal meat in the Netherlands, and is likely to inspire similar campaigns in other European countries.
The argument seems straightforward: if we have scientifically proven standards for animal welfare that we believe in, we should stick to those standards. And indeed, it would be a simple argument if the people affected by the ban were a random mix of a wide variety of the population.
The problem with the outright ban is that the only people affected are religious minorities: in the Dutch case, one million Dutch Muslims and 40,000 Jews. This makes it easy to claim that anti-minority sentiments are the hidden reason for the legislation. When far right anti-Islamic parties like Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party strongly support the ban, it’s easy to believe that the motivation may not always be just to protect animal welfare.
Our society is becoming increasingly secular, with the mainstream regarding religious faith as unproven and therefore unsupportable: the atheistic viewpoint dominates. How far do we want this to continue? Do we want to live in a state where people are jailed for their religious beliefs?
Qualified vet Pete Wedderburn writes in the Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2011