A general meeting of the Dutch Labour Party has passed a motion calling on the parliamentary party to reject a proposed ban on ritual slaughter as practised by Muslims and Jews.
The motion was adopted by a vote of 57.5 percent in favour and 42.5 percent against.
Labour's parliamentary party had previously said it intended to back the draft bill, submitted by the Animal Rights Party, which would end all forms of ritual slaughter in which animals are not anaesthetised first.
It is not yet clear whether the motion passed by the general Labour meeting will sway its parliamentary party to change its position. Motions are not binding but carry considerable weight.
Many members, especially those with a Jewish or Muslim background, voiced outrage that the parliamentary party had adopted its position without first allowing the party to conduct a thorough discussion on the matter.
Labour leader Job Cohen admitted that the parliamentary party had failed to act properly. “Hence this general meeting,” he explained.
Angry members argued that Islamic and Jewish slaughter customs do not cause animals to suffer more.
Others argued that their suffering is prolonged as the animals remain conscious for a time while they bleed to death.
Many Labour members agree that a ban on ritual slaughter would encroach on the religious tolerance on which Holland has prided itself for centuries.
Other members wondered why the issue is not being discussed in the broader context of animal welfare in general, including abuses in the industrial farming sector.
The bill proposed by the Animal Rights Party will be discussed in parliament on Wednesday.
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