Debate: Is Denmark right to ban Halal and Kosher slaughtering?


What's going on?

Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists.

The change to the law, announced last week and effective as of yesterday, has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.

So was the government right to change the law?


Have you watched a halal or kosher butcher slaughter a cow? The animal has a knife drawn across its throat while still fully aware, and bleeds to death. Their legs judder, their neck twists, they panic. Why should we place the sensibilities of religious people above the rights of an animal to as painless a death as possible? The Danish minister for agriculture and food has said "animal rights come before religion”, and he is bang on.

All these new regulations require is that animals are stunned before death, in line with rules in many other European countries. Yes Jewish Law  and Islamic Law require the animal to be conscious when killed for meat to be kosher or halal, but Denmark is a progressive nation - with a population of around 6,500 Jewish people, and 270,000 Muslims out of a total 5.6 million -  and need not bind itself to the outdated and inhumane principles of historic creeds. Furthermore, traditional halal and kosher meat can still be freely imported if so desired.


Where to begin. First, socially, these bully-boy tactics may cause friction in the Danish community (and the pitch of fury at the decision suggests it already has). The UK permits animals to be conscious before they are slaughtered by Islamic or Jewish butchers (though around 88 per cent of animals are stunned first) - this allows Jews and Muslims to continue their ways of life without feeling marginalised by the state.

Second, there are far greater problems with meat production than ways of slaughtering. Is it not crueler to keep a chicken in a battery coop all its life than to quickly cut a lamb's throat? If Denmark is so worried about animal welfare, why not tackle the barbaric conditions of its pig farming? Or its giraffe-killing zoos?

Given these issues, is it really accurate to say that "animal rights come before religion"? This decision instead appears to targets religious minorities by selectively applying a concern for animal rights.

Denmark was right to ban religious slaughtering

Read Next
Ed Miliband and his deputy Harriet Harman at the Labour Party conference in Manchester  

Miliband has excellent ideas – he just needs to make himself more visible

Steve Richards
A general view of the Houses of Parliament on July 6, 2009 in London, England.  

The next general election will be one of the most exciting in recent history. Here's why

Christopher Goodfellow
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments