|Animals must now be stunned before their throats are cut in religious rituals. gettyimagesbank|
By Jung Min-ho
A Belgian ban on the Muslim and Jewish ways of slaughtering animals came into force on Jan. 1 as tensions grow over the balance between animal welfare and religious freedom.
The law, which some critics said is a "great assault" on minority religious rights in the country, bans religious ways of killing animals, which requires butchers to slit the animals' throats while they are conscious.
All animals now have to be stunned electrically before being killed, which many animal rights activists think "more humane."
But European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor urged legislators to "step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights."
"It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society," he said.
Last year, several religious organizations filed lawsuits to stop the legislation, saying the European Court of Human Rights previously described kosher slaughter as an essential part of the practice of the Jewish religion.
There are about 30,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims in Belgium.