Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the EJA's general director, spoke out Monday after Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare Ben Weyts told Belgian television he would actively pursue a total ban on the practice of animal slaughter without pre-stunning. If successful, the move could be implemented by 2015.
Rabbi Margolin stressed that the Jewish practice of "shechita" is "the most humane method of slaughter," as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of slaughter, but also concerns itself with "the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter.
"Attacks on Jewish ritual practice are nothing new," he added, "but it is always a sensitive issue for the Jewish people.
"As well as being illogical and inconsistent from the perspective of animal rights, labeling kosher meat will give ammunition to anti-Semites to attack Jewish tradition," the rabbi concluded.
Speaking to Belgian television show "De zevende dag" on the VRT network Sunday morning, Minister Weyts called for religious groups to adhere to current legislation which allows animal slaughter without pre-stunning to be carried out only in licensed abattoirs.
Further legislation, he added, was on the agenda for 2015. Whilst little is known of the substance of this legislation, the cabinet office of his Belgian government counterpart, Wallon Minister Carlo Di Antonio, indicated it would "take the same shape as that suggested by" the Flemish Minister.
In a meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders earlier this month, at the head of a delegation of European Jewish representatives, the deputy prime minister told Rabbi Margolin he had called on all communities in Belgium to support "a program aimed at protecting our European values of human rights."
Reynders added that the fight against anti-Semitism would be among the new Belgian government’s foremost priorities.
The European Jewish Association has previously campaigned against legislation to restrict the practice of ritual slaughter in Poland and Denmark. Following Rabbi Margolin’s meetings with European commissioners, including Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg, the Commission promised to seek clarification on any legislation which proposes to restrict the practice of religious slaughter.