Denmark has banned the religious slaughter of animals in a controversial decision that effectively ends the sale of halal and kosher meats.
European regulations require animals to be stunned before slaughter except on religious grounds. Denmark has removed this exemption, drawing strong protests from Jewish and Islamic groups.
Animals must be conscious when killed in order to be considered halal or kosher but animal rights groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) have called for it to be banned.
Danish Halal, a group that oversees the authenticity of halal meat in the country and which launched a petition against the ban, was quoted by Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera as saying the decision was “a clear interference in religious freedom limiting the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark”.
Danish Minister for Agriculture and Food Dan Jørgensen defended the decision, telling Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.
Qatari Islamic scholars called on authorities in Muslim countries to be extra vigilant to ensure all imported meat in their countries was halal, claiming some exporters had lax monitoring processes.
Denmark exports chicken and meat burgers to the Gulf, according to Qatari daily The Peninsula.