THE HAGUE - Ending a nightmare for Jewish and Muslim minorities, party factions representing a majority in the Dutch Senate have stressed they would vote against the bill proposed by the small Dutch Animal Rights Party to ban ritual slaughter in the country.
It still needs to be voted on later this month, but it's unlikely that it will go through, Jurjen Bugel, a spokesman for the Upper House, who said a December 20 no would stop the proposed amended legislation in its tracks, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, December 14.
A proposal to ban the ritual slaughter was first submitted by a pro-animal party, the Party for Animals (PvdD).
The party, which holds two seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, said that such ritual slaughter causes unnecessary pain to the animal.
Last June, the Dutch parliament voted in favor of banning the ritual slaughter of animals, to the anger of Muslim and Jewish minorities in the European country.
The bill stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to the Muslim halal and Jewish Kosher slaughters which require animals to be fully conscious.
In parliament, the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, and the ruling People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) party supported the bill.
For this to become a law, the Senate must ratify the bill during its voting session next week.
Although senators will not vote until Dec. 20, it appeared from Tuesday's debate that several parties that initially backed the ban in parliament, including ruling VVD and Labor Party, have changed their mind.
"Our faction unanimously cannot support the proposed law," said Nico Schrijver, Senate member for the Labor Party, which backed the ban in the lower house, Reuters reported.
This is too much of an ad hoc solution and a symbolic law.
If the Netherlands does outlaw procedures that make meat kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, it will be the second country after New Zealand to do so in recent years.
Ritual slaughter is currently banned in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Switzerland permits it for poultry.
Although bill was about to be blocked, Dutch authorities would continue to discuss the issue with Jewish and Muslim communities.
Minister Bleker will continue to talk to these communities to see how the suffering of animals during slaughter can be lessened, Coen Gelinck, the spokesman for Agriculture State Secretary Henk Bleker, told AFP.
Over the past few months, Jewish and Muslim leaders have been angry with the proposed ban.
Representatives of the both religious minorities insisted ritual slaughter respected the animals' welfare and that those doing the slaughtering received expert training.
European Union regulations require animals to be stunned before killing but allow exceptions for ritual slaughter, which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled is a religious right.
According to the Islamic and Jewish ritual, the animal is slaughtered by a sharp blade.
Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands's 16 million population, mostly from Turkish and Moroccan origin.
Dutch Jews number around 50,000.
Of the 500 million animals slaughtered annually for food in the Netherlands, only 1.2 million animals are slaughtered according to Muslim or Jewish traditions, Dutch statistics show.
Muslim scholars agree that Shari`ah provides a divine law of mercy that should be applied on all Allah's creations, including animals.
Islam also provides details about avoiding any unnecessary pain.