Shechita UK chief warns of ‘threats’ to Jewish religious freedoms in Brussels speech

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Shechita UK chief warns of ‘threats’ to Jewish religious freedoms in Brussels speech

Shimon Cohen told an urgent European Commission (EC) conference of the 'blatant disregard various member states have towards Jewish religious freedoms'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Shimon Cohen, from Shechita UK, addresses the EC conference
Shimon Cohen, from Shechita UK, addresses the EC conference

Shechita UK’s campaign director Shimon Cohen has spoken of “threats” to Jewish religious freedoms in powerful speech made to a European Commission (EC) conference in Brussels.

Cohen told Thursday’s gathering, which was held under the title ‘Freedom of religion with regard to religious slaughter’: “Shechita is not, by any stretch, crueller than any other slaughter process.

“The differing practices and religions must be tolerated, not trampled on and outlawed. That is the banner that should be waved the highest.”

The high-profile conference was held in partnership with the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Commissioner for Equality of the EC, Helena Dalli, had delivered the opening remarks at an event whose stated aim was “combating antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.”

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, theUnited States special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, Miguel Moratinos, high representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and Nicola Beer, European Parliament vice-president, were among the other speakers.

Cohen told Jewish News:“It was a great privilege to have been invited to Brussels last Thursday to address the European Commission on the threats to religious slaughter across Europe.

“This conference was unique.

“For the first time, we were invited and hosted and asked to present our concerns.

” I spoke candidly about the blatant disregard various Member States have towards Jewish religious freedoms, impertinently positioning Shechita opposite animal welfare concerns and banning Kosher meat production in their countries, greatly hindering Jewish life with a perverse sense that Jews don’t matter.”

Ahead of the conferencethe EC said in a document it “is committed to ensuring freedom of religion or belief in the EU, including the rights for minority groups to express their religion through specific cultural, traditional and religious practices in line with the Charter on Fundamental Rights.”

The document added that “recently, Muslim and Jewish communities have been expressing their rising concern about shrinking space for their freedom to practice their respective religions in Europe, in light of bans or discussions about possible bans of slaughter based on religious tradition.”

Cohen added:”Behind the loud banners proclaiming animal welfare lies ignorance, misinformation, and far more sinister agendas. Suggesting mechanical stunning methods as an animal welfare benefit is ridiculous.

“These methods are not woozy, gentle procedures, drifting cows off to sleep before slaughter. In truth, they are simply factory efficiency procedures.”

He called for the pledges made at the conference to “be translated into action.”

Cohen said:” We should have no need for to petition from podiums and speak in conferences, listing the threats the Jewish communities face simply for practicing their faith. Instead, Europe should practice its beliefs too, protecting the religious rights and freedoms of all. Legislative safeguards must be made to protect Jewish religious life across Europe.”

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