Netherlands’ only kosher slaughterhouse says it faces closure following export ban

Jul 17, 2017

(JTA) – The only kosher slaughterhouse in the Netherlands is facing closure because of a government-introduced ban on exporting its produce, the abattoir’s lawyer said.

The ban was included in a July 5 agreement between the government and Jewish and Muslim faith leaders.

Herman Loonstein complained about its effects in a letter he sent last week on behalf of the Slagerij Marcus abattoir to leaders of the Dutch Jewish community.

A clause in the document signed July 5 states that meat may be produced without stunning the animals, as is common in kosher slaughter, but that such meat will “not exceed the actual needs of communities present in the Netherlands.”

For Slagerij Marcus this stipulation means a loss of approximately 40 percent of its income, which it derives from export, Loonstein told JTA, making its operation “financially untenable.”

The agreement was an extension and addition of an earlier deal signed between government officials and faith leaders in 2012. But the clause on exports was added to the original agreement in July, Loonstein said.

Stripped of 40 percent of its income, the Jewish slaughterhouse “cannot continue to exist,” Loonstein’s letter read. “In summation, the effectuation of the ban on export will mean the end of the last kosher slaughterhouse in the Netherlands.”

Religious laws in Islam and Judaism require animals be conscious when their necks are cut. Animal rights activist consider this practice cruel, though its advocates argue it results in less or equal suffering compared to industrial slaughter methods with stunning. Nationalists and anti-Islam activists also oppose ritual slaughter in Europe, ostensibly because they view it as foreign to their native culture.

In 2011, the Dutch lower house passed a ban on ritual slaughter with support from the Party for the Animals and the far-right Party for Freedom. But the Dutch Senate reversed the ban, arguing it was infringing on freedom of worship.

Two of Belgium’s three regions have passed regulations in recent weeks outlawing the production of kosher and halal meat.