Muslim group: ‘Make halal slaughter legal’

The Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF) has renewed calls for the legalization of religious slaughter practices such as kosher and halal.

Muslim group: 'Make halal slaughter legal'

In a letter to the Swedish government, SMF chairperson Mahmoud Aldebe, challenges the government to respect the “democratic rights” of Sweden’s Muslims to exercise their “religious freedoms” and find a way to permit the practice.

He points out that all other European Union countries have found a way to permit religious slaughter practices in a way that most religious authorities accept.

The halal slaughter method is administered by means of a sharp knife, cutting through the skin, jugular vein, and trachea to result in thorough bleeding of the carcass in preparation for dressing and evisceration in accordance with Islamic guidelines.

There is a great deal of similarity between halal and kosher methods and some Muslim halal authorities accept kosher meat as halal.

A key issue is when and how the pain killer is administered to the animal. The SMF is seeking a dispensation from the agriculture ministry over the requirement that an electric shock be administered to the animal before the cut is made.

“This method is prohibited by most Muslim and Jewish authorities as the risk of the animal dying before the cut is made is high,” Aldebe writes.

The ban on the slaughter of animals by cutting the jugular vein has been in force in Sweden since 1937.

Aldebe points out that in 1937 “around 20 Muslims” lived in Sweden. There are now around 500,000 and 60 percent of these are Swedish citizens.

Aldebe argues that the Swedish government should consider the issue as a question of the democratic rights to religious freedoms and not bow to pressure from “extremist groups” such as “neo-Nazis, animal rights activists and certain veterinarians” and grant dispensation.

He argues that opponents “have to see that the issue is more than simply a case of animal protection” and argues that if that were the case then elk hunting and the slaughter of pigs should also be banned.

The issue was last considered in a report by the agency for the prevention of cruelty to animals (Djurskyddsmyndigheten) published in the spring of 2007.

The department has since been integrated into the agriculture ministry and no action has been taken on the report’s recommendations.