BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday that EU member states can that animals be stunned before they are ritually slaughtered.
The case was brought to the EU's top court after several Jewish and Muslim associations sought the annulment of a 2017 decree by the Flemish region of Belgium that prohibited the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, including during religious rites.
The associations had argued that the decree did not allow believers to properly practice their religion because it prevented them from obtaining meat from animals slaughtered in accordance with their religious precepts.
In its ruling, the EU’s top court said “the principle that an animal should be stunned prior to being killed meets the main objective of the protection of animal welfare.”
European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor branded the ruling a “fundamental attack on the basic rights of Jewish religious expression and practice."
The court, however, said the measures provided by the Flemish decree “allow a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion."