The ban brings Belgium in line with European Union regulations that require animals to be stunned, so they canâ€™t feel pain, before slaughter. However, Jewish and Muslim religious laws require that animals are conscious when they are killed.
Kosher and Halal methods of slaughter involve the animal being killed with a single cut to the neck which severs critical blood vessels. Advocates claim the animal loses consciousness in seconds and it doesnâ€™t suffer during the process.
Approximately 500,000 Muslims and over 30,000 Jews live in the small European country, which has a population of 11.3 million. Leaders of both communities have railed against the new law and are challenging it in Belgiumâ€™s Constitutional Court.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said the ban is proof that â€œradical Islam has won.â€
â€œWe are in the midst of an attack on the freedom of religion. The European capital has, with its laws and lack of tolerance for minorities, proven that radical Islam has won,â€he said, as cited by Israel National News.
â€œWe managed to block many [similar pieces] of legislation in other countries in Europe and attempts to pass bills in the European Parliament and initiatives in the the EUâ€™s agencies.â€
However, that stance was dismissed by animal rights activists. Ann De Greef, director of Global Action in the Interest of Animals, said that in Belgium â€œthe law is above religion.â€
â€œThey want to keep living in the Middle Ages and continue to slaughter without stunning â€“ as the technique didnâ€™t yet exist back then â€“ without having to answer to the law,â€ she said to the New York Times. â€œWell, Iâ€™m sorry, in Belgium the law is above religion and that will stay like that.â€
Most EU countries have religious exceptions to the EUâ€™s stunning requirement. However, Belgium is joining Sweden, Denmark and Slovenia among the nations that do not make allowances; while in Germany and the Netherlands, the exceptions are very limited.
The new law applies to the countryâ€™s Flanders region and a similar ruling will come into force in the Wallonia region in August, meaning the religious slaughtering practices will be outlawed across the country.