On UNHRC floor, WJC urges council to reaffirm Jewish right to circumcision and ritual slaughter

GENEVA - World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomat Aurélie Casahoursat delivered a statement on the United Nations Human Rights Council floor on Monday on behalf of the WJC, asking the council to reaffirm the importance of the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief, and calling on governments of member and observer countries to ensure this right for all religions. 

“Every Shabbat, Jews around the world gather in the synagogues and read The Psalms of the Fathers. Of particular significance is the quote, ‘The essential thing is not study, but deed." (I, 17). Indeed, the Jewish doctrine is fundamentally pragmatic, and active tradition – deed -  is an essential part of Jewish life and identity.

Circumcision is one of the cornerstones of Jewish tradition - and it is of crucial importance to Muslims as well. The same is true for the traditions of the kosher and hallal diets, which include the consumption of ritually slaughtered meat. Both of these rituals are central principles of Judaism and Islam practiced for millennia.

Unfortunately, in Europe - the cradle of democracy - the Jewish and Muslim right to freedom of religion or belief is increasingly being challenged in some countries. In Denmark and Norway, for example, there have been calls to ban circumcision. In Belgium, both Wallonia and Flanders recently voted to ban ritual slaughter of animals without stunning from 2019. In Switzerland, a bill under consideration could ban the import of meat from ritual slaughter – the act itself is already banned in that county.

 “These laws preventing certain communities from having a religious life equal to others are unacceptable. A few days ago, the Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress adopted several resolutions reaffirming freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental human right that must be respected by all. We ask the Council to reaffirm the importance of this right and the governments of member and observer countries to ensure this right for all religions.”

Members of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps will deliver statements on Item 7 (which singles Israel out for criticism), Item 4 (persecution of religious minorities), and Item 9 (racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, as the UNHRC session continues.)

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