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Monday 22 December  
The Hague, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands

An animal doesn't care about its killer's faith

Published on : 15 April 2011 - 3:10pm | By (Photo: Alf Bilder)
More about:

A parliamentary majority is putting the final touches on a bill proposing the ban of ritual slaughter in the Netherlands. The proposal was put forward by the Animal Rights Party to make slaughter practices for kosher and halal meat illegal.

About the author

Marianne Thieme

Marianne Thieme is leader of the Animal Rights Party and a member of parliament. She writes a weekly blog which is translated into nine different languages on animal welfare,

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to have members of an animal rights party elected to parliament. The Animal Rights Party (Partij voor de Dieren in Dutch) strives for compassion, personal freedom, sustainability and personal responsibility for the planet and its people.

by Marianne Thieme

The detailed instructions given in both the Qur'an and the Torah on how people should treat animals tell us not to show cruelty to them. The holy books describe how animal products should be prepared in such a way that no suffering is inflicted on humans or animals.

3000 years ago
3000 years ago, Islamic and Jewish traditions were way ahead when it came to treating animals well. But that does not change the fact that, based on new insights, their methods of slaughter are in need of reform today. Religious believers can no longer justify a method that was ahead of its time 3000 years ago. 

A range of techniques for stunning animals before slaughter are now available. Extensive research has been conducted on the extent to which animals experience pain during slaughter – the most dramatic event in an animal’s life. It is important to be able to guarantee all animals that the slaughter procedure will be as painless as possible and will be carried out with the least possible distress.

That safeguard has already been embodied in Dutch law, but there is an exemption for Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. There is very little support in the Netherlands or in a range of other countries – whether in political circles or among the public at large – for upholding this exemption. Turkey has announced plans to abolish ritual slaughter from the end of this year. The practice has already been banned in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Iceland and New Zealand.

Curb freedom of religion
While anyone who practises a religion has the right to their own religious truths, it doesn’t give them the right to violate the welfare of another human or an animal. So, where necessary, it is the task of the government to intervene and curb the freedom of religion. If you’re religious, you might cling to certain views on homosexuality, for example, but that should never lead to discrimination against fellow citizens.

Luckily, the debate on ritual slaughter is also being held in religious circles. The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (which comprises 1,600 conservative rabbis) in New York issued a statement in 2001 entitled “A Stunning Matter”. The declaration said that the Torah leaves the matter of stunning animals before shechita (Jewish slaughter) open and that there is no need to ban the practice. Within the Muslim community, the option of stunning before slaughter is also garnering support.

No to religious exclusive rights
Constant references to legal practices or questionable findings in the past are not conducive to producing a well-balanced debate. It is no longer possible or permissible to continue with ritual slaughter given that all independent researchers conclude that anaesthetising animals leads to less pain. These findings have been backed up by veterinary experts.

The development of ethics is a dynamic process and not an exclusive privilege of the religious. The concept of animal welfare rights has now been established in mainstream society; and so, the next logical step is to embody that development in political decision making. That justifies the abolition of unanaesthetised ritual slaughter. It would signify a great breakthrough in the struggle to treat animals in the Netherlands with more compassion.



Michelle Jones 11 November 2014 - 1:42pm / USA

Human is the most cleaver on the earth compare to all other living creatures. Animals are very innocent and they can't talk about themselves like us. It is our responsibilities to take proper care of them. Give them proper food and care to make them stronger and healthy. I am also an Animal lover and I love my Pets.

larilasmith 5 March 2014 - 8:34am / USA

Animals are lovely in nature and they are one of the part of our ecosystem. The people whoever are interested in keeping pet at home they have to take proper care about them as well as they should have proper knowledge regarding the animal care. From the studies of various animal diversity and their living style it is seen that animals are one of the important part of our life. So the government introducing new rules to prevent the animals from the outer world.
chatsworth Vet

Sherwin Chen 19 March 2012 - 5:03am

This reminds me of a similar problem in China, where people in some areas still continue to kill dogs for meat, and to them, it is an age old tradition. When should we intervene to stop killings, when there is religious or cultural backings behind it? Should we cross the line in dictating what should and should not be done? Sherwin

Anonymous 23 April 2011 - 6:20pm / Lalaland

I took a course of artificial insemination of cows; I ceased my occupation in that field, because I thought that any bull could give the cow more sexual satisfaction and do a better job than I could do.

Hiram1 23 April 2011 - 7:56pm

Lalaland, did you take the course on artificial insemination of cows because you wanted to make sure you could breed your cattle or did you take it in order to give the cow more sexual satisfaction than you could provide? Your statement implies that the cow can do a better job at giving the cow more and better sexual satisfaction than you could do. Lalaland are you a city slicker?

Anonymous 24 April 2011 - 1:35am / Lalaland

The artificial insemination straws don't give the cow a lot of satisfaction, a bull does a better job. I grew up on a farm and I know the reality of farming life.

Hiram1 24 April 2011 - 10:00am

Lalaland, thanks for the information. At least, you are not one of those city slickers who thinks milk is produced at Wal-Mart's dairy section. Bye!

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 3:49pm / USA

"I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand
in awe at the strucucture of the world, insofar as it allows
our inadecuate senses to appreciate it"

eterenityandbeyond 21 April 2011 - 1:46pm / Germany

Interesting views, but I can't believe the audactiy of some people to suggest that God could have done a better job. I don't think you were around at creation, so it's too late for God to seek your advice. Fortunately God is not only very creative, His love will cover all foolishness. You should ask forgiveness for your presumptuousness.

user avatar
knirb 21 April 2011 - 6:38pm

Audacity... hmmmm... sounds a lot like heresy. That's what what Galileo was persecuted for, by audacious humans who claimed to know the mind of God.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 6:22pm / USA

It would be irrational to ask for forgiveness to something that does not intervene in human affairs or listen or answer the millions of daily prayers from believers. Jews prayed for salvation from the gas chambers and "God" did not move afinger to help them and despite of being "ignored" they worship "him" with still more passion.
Life in this planet is controlled by the laws of evolution, whether we like or not and where the strongest survive and the weak disappears. It may sound cruel but all the immunity we have today against common diseases is the result of natural Darwinian selection. Some fundamentalists, when caught in a corner, then they change their Adam and Eve theory and come with the explanation that God himself set in motion the process of evolution. Smart and pious God?

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 5:54am

"Every day man eats fish, but when someday fish eats man then fish is bad."
Chinesse proverb.

Anonymous 20 April 2011 - 10:42am

While anyone who practises a religion has the right to their own religious truths, it doesn’t give them the right to violate the welfare of another human or an animal. So, where necessary, it is the task of the government to intervene and curb the freedom of religion. If you’re religious, you might cling to certain views on homosexuality, for example, but that should never lead to discrimination against fellow citizens.

JW 18 April 2011 - 10:06am / NL

I applaud efforts to treat animals more humanely. But I wonder why these efforts seem to be concentrated on the circumstances of death. More attention should be focussed on animals' entire tortured lives.

MariaVegan 18 April 2011 - 6:00am

Even simpler would be to not kill animals at all! Why is an animal 'justice' party even supporting any form of killing? Slaughter should not be the most dramatic event in an animal's life. That's immoral, disgusting and unjust.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 6:09am

I agree with you Maria Vega, and that makes me think that the "Designer of the Universe and everthing in it" failed to show wisdom and mercy by not making all the animal species of this planet herbiborous, thus avoiding the continuous and cruel battle for survival, known as the Law of the Jungle, where the strong feeds from the weak.
If he is an architect he should go back to the drafting board.

A_call_for_tolerance 18 April 2011 - 3:41am / Canada

How many people even voted for the Animal Rights Party? Who are the other politicians pandering to by supporting this evil decree to ban kosher slaughter?

user avatar
knirb 19 April 2011 - 5:50am

The Animal Rights Party got 122,317 votes in the 2010 election.
This bill is about applying the existing law equally, scrapping an exemption for halal and kosher slaughtering without stunning.
Support comes from left, right and center PVDD(Animal Rights), SP(Socialist), Greenleft, PVDA(Labor), PVV(right) and D66 (center). These parties are predominantly seen as pro Islam except PVV which is pro Israel. The ones opposing this bill are 3 Christian parties and the liberal VVD is on the fence.

Leucipus 17 April 2011 - 6:11am / USA

Isn't it ridiculous? The "creator" of everything that exist in this universe munching a piece of goat to satify his hunger. These religious fanatics will sacrifice children if allowed. That's how faith distorts reason.

Victor1 17 April 2011 - 1:51pm

Strange conclusions. As I know no text in Quran/Torah says that it is food for God.

Leucipus 17 April 2011 - 6:05am

The day I see your Gods eating the offerings I will cease to be an Atheist.

Hiram1 17 April 2011 - 4:57pm

Is that how it works, Leucipus? Only if you see it? Is that why a person becomes an Atheist?

Leucipus 17 April 2011 - 11:05pm

I'm very proud of being an atheist. I'm free from the chains of all kinds of religions whith their preconceived absurdities about life and the universe.
I have the right to reject anything not substained by reason and finally .... I don't sacrifice anything living in the name of a God, product of an ilusion. Bring your God to me and let him talk to me, then and only then I will admit that I was wrong.
Be happy with your belief, but don't try to perpetuate them in others people's minds.

Hiram1 18 April 2011 - 5:52am

Leucipus, if you were free as you stated, why do you need to tell anyone you are an atheist? Why do I need to bring Him to you to see? You can already see it in the physical universe. Do you think the universe just created itself? Leucipus, just because you can't comprehend or see the Creator, doesn't mean the Creator doesn't exist. Does the Creator have to be something you can see or physically touch? Again, the material universe exists and it had an Architect. If you want to be believe it just happened (affect) without a cause (creator), then go for it.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 5:32am

The burden on proof lies on the believer. Therefore, bring me your God and I'll stop doubting about it's existence. I think that I have the same right to reject what is not reasonable as you do with your right to preach ilogical and emotional absurdities. You see ... faith, by definition, means accepting something as truth despite all the evidence to the contrary.
The Universe is great as it is and is not necesary to invent any "Creator" responsible for its existence. You will be in the same situation, if you are fair enough, of trying to explain the Creator of the Creator and so on.
If you abbandon that line of pure logical reasoning, then your first premise and conclusion are false or very weak. Simple enough?

Hiram1 21 April 2011 - 6:42am

"The burden on proof lies on the believer."...You are a "believer" of His non-existence, therefore, prove the Creator doesn't exist. My evidence is the existence of the physical universe. I can see it and I can touch it. When you got up this morning from a bed made by man and drove your car (made by man) to work in a building (made by man) and now you want to say prove the Creator existence. Everything we use in our daily lives had a creator and it appears you want to tell me that the universe created itself out of nothing. Nothing doesn't create something. No, you prove He doesn't exist. I showed you proof but you will never believe it. Why? Because you are the type that believes the Creator has to be like you. I don't think so.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 5:36pm / USA

The concept that everything that exist must have a creator is misleading. What you see around is just a series of transformations in time due to physical and chemical processes.
We ourselves can not be separated from them and think of us as something entirely different.
From the humble amoeba to the human brain we are composed from the same elements ejected from the core of stars billions of years ago. It may be difficult to imagine that matter or energy did not have a beginning or will not have an end, but the fact that our senses do not comprehend or "grasp" that idea does not necessarily mean it is not real. We are restricted by the idea that time flows continuously, like a river, because that is what our limited senses and perceptions tell us in our daily lives. Mathematics have proven wrong many conceptions that our senses dictated otherwise.
It is not wise to invent theories about things just because we want them to exist so passionately. It may comfort you to believe in a god but that does not proof to you or me or to anybody that your god is real. It only "lives" in your thoughts as a function of your your neural activity.
Science tries to explain things based on rationality and observation, not on wishful thinking.

Humanity have invented many gods, yours is just another. It may seem real to you but I am sure it is no different than those mystical deities of ancient Greeks or Romans or Incas.
Enjoy your life now while it lasts. The paradise is man's refusal to accept the ultimate truth: that we are basically no different than any other animal in this planet.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 3:54pm / USA

"To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of "nothings".
To say that the human soul, angels, God, are inmaterial,
is to say that they are nothings, or that there is no God, no
angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise ... without plunging
into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied,
and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without
tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be,
but of which I have no evidence"

Hiram1 21 April 2011 - 5:41pm

I am satisfied,and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without
tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence"...Jefferson did state "which may indeed be" but of which he had no evidence. Now, Jefferson was also an inventor and one could argue he was not satisfy with things as they were but was mentally occupied with things not yet seen but could be. His mind was on material things and not spiritual things which are not seen but sensed. He was part of the creation but he lacked the time and effort to understand the spiritual aspect of his Creator and the Creator of the physical universe. If he was satisfied in what he believe then so be it but that doesn't negate the Creator. The universe has a cause. It didn't create itself without a Creator.

Leucipus 21 April 2011 - 7:02pm / USA

Now we are diving into deeper waters and without high mathematics is impossible to convince anybody about the "bizarre" properties of matter under the influence of strong gravitational fields, the relativity of space and time, gravity explained in terms of curvature of space, velocity and acceleration affecting time as we perceive it from different points of observation.
All this knowledge have been the results of investigation, observation and logical conclusions. Not because of blind faith. We have "faith" in numbers and equations because they provide us with verifiable answers, something totally different from your faith.
Life is nothing but a glimpse of the beauty of this marvelous universe and is sad that so many are wasting it dreaming with spiritual fantasies.
Amigo .... the earth is not flat and certainly not the center of the universe.

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