ADL Shocked At French Prime Minister's Call For End To Jewish And Muslim Ritual Slaughter

New York, NY, March 6, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was shocked by comments from the prime minister of France suggesting that religions which practice ritual slaughter should consider abandoning the practice as incompatible with modern society.

In an interview earlier this week Prime Minister Francois Fillon called on Jews and Muslims to consider giving up their kosher and halal slaughter laws and suggested such traditional practices were outmoded by modern methods of animal slaughter. "Religions should think about keeping traditions that don't have much in common with today's state of science, technology and health problems," he told Europe Radio 1.

"It is unacceptable for the leader of a government that avows strict church-state separation to suggest that Jews and Muslims give up their religious traditions in the interests of science," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Political leaders should not tell Jews and Muslims or anyone else for that matter how to practice their religion and observe their faith."

In a letter to the prime minister, the League said his remarks were particularly shocking coming from a French leader who has attended Jewish community functions in the past and who is held in high esteem by the Jewish community.

"Jewish dietary laws constitute a fundamental religious practice, of which shechita, kosher slaughter, is a major component," Mr. Foxman wrote. He cited a European Court of Human Rights ruling from 2000 in which France successfully argued that it protected religious freedom by allowing the main French Jewish religious organization to employ traditional slaughter practices.

"The religious premise of kosher slaughter is humane treatment of animals, not 'hygiene,' as you stated, and scientific studies have demonstrated that today's stunning methods are no more humane than correctly performed shechita, Mr. Foxman wrote. "Modern society would certainly benefit were all of its activities similarly in the pursuit of the most humane course of action."

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