Danish government bans kosher slaughter

13 February 2014

Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen has signed a regulation which effectively bans religious slaughter in the country. “Animal rights come before religion,” Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 television news. The regulation requires all animal slaughter to be carried out with prior stunning of the animal, which is against shechita (Jewish religious slaughter).

The measure will go into effect on Monday. It will have little practical consequences for Jewish life in Denmark since for the past ten years all kosher meat sold in Denmark has been imported from abroad.

Under the new regulation, Danish slaughterhouses can no longer apply for an exemption to pre-stunning.

Both the Jewish and the Muslim communities in Denmark have strongly opposed the decree, arguing that it constitutes an infringement of religious freedom. Jørgensen rejected the argument: “When they [the religious communities] are upset about the ban even though they have not taken advantage of the exemptions available, it can only be because in the future they would like to carry out slaughter without stunning.”

Jørgensen’s predecessor as food minister, Karen Hækkerup, last year demanded that all religious slaughter without stunning in Denmark should be banned. Jørgensen is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who has recently struggled to hold her government together.

The ban on religious slaughter is seen by some observers as a populist measure. Under European Union legislation, the import of kosher or halal meat cannot be banned if it is performed in accordance with the regulations in place in the EU country where the animal is slaughtered.

Last week, the director of Copenhagen’s zoo caused international outrage when he put down a healthy giraffe for eugenic reasons and had its carcass fed to lions in front of a number of children.

An estimated 6,000 Jews live in Denmark, most of them in the capital Copenhagen.

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John Sanders

Tue, 18 Feb 2014

The Danes are inconsistent in their human treatment of animals.but consistent in their persecution of Orthodox Jewish practices.

Dany Hansen-Israel

Mon, 17 Feb 2014

This has been done for the sake of the animals, not for the sake of religion. It is about not causing unnessesary suffering. It's as simple as that. Which connection does this have to the regulation of the population of giraffes in zoos? The director has already provided the reasons for this action.

This goes on in zoos all over the world. Why is it mentioned in this piece? To label danes as brutal against animals, while intolerant to religion? I am afraid, this is a dishonest way of arguing. And ofcourse, it isn't true. Denmarks simply have a tradition af transparency. We do not generally hide those things about life, that might be uncomfortable or cause us trouble. This has brought us hate from parts of the world in the past, but I still think that it is the nobler road to take.

People in these comments have already used words like antisemitic, boycott, evil, tyranny of secularism. Could you perhaps tone it down a bit?

We generally base our decisions on these matters on the available scientific evidence and on public debate.

Someone mentioned, that the next will be a ban on the Brit Milah, and it may. The government has so far postponed a dicision on this topic.

Denmark is not anti-semitic. It is anti-cruelty (whether you agree in this decission or not, that is the reason for it), except in parts of the farming-industry, for the reason, that it has to be ably to compete with the rest of the world on prices and not only quality.

I have lived in Denmark my whole life, and I have ever only heard one anti-semitic remark. This was from a very old bigot. The remark was of the low-key nasty kind, and it gave me the chills. But nothing more.

I am an internationalist, but I get annoyed at these constant uninformed attacks.

Andrew Maxwell

Sat, 15 Feb 2014

Denmark confirmed antisemitic. Guess it's okay to kill giraffes in front of children... but kosher slaughter, which is actually based on principles against animal cruelty, is banned. This is bullshit

Evert Kooy

Thu, 13 Feb 2014

Evert Kooy

There we go again, when is the European anti-semitism going to end?

The good book told the Jews how to butcher a cow 2000 years ago.

But Mr Jorgensen seems to know it better.

Judie Stein

Thu, 13 Feb 2014

The Danish Government slaughters a gorgeous, gentle 2 year old healthy kangaroo, but doesn't allow a religion to practice their laws. Another reason to boycott Denmark and everything related to them.


Thu, 13 Feb 2014

We must all leave evil europe and return to eretz Yisroel....

renato docampo

Thu, 13 Feb 2014

What a horrendously barbaric people.

They should know that in nature, lions stick to imported kosher meat and vegetables.

Dina Fonda

Thu, 13 Feb 2014

This decree is just another regulation to show the government is in control. Pretty soon religion will have no more voice in the public square. Very sad!

Ronald Sevenster

Thu, 13 Feb 2014

This is a general trend in Europe. Jews and Muslims should openly defy this kind of legislation, not obey it, and go on with kosher or hallal slaughter. Do not bend to the tyranny of secularism. For this is just the beginning. The next thing will be a prohibition of Brit Milah.