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  • January 2016: Ritual slaughter

The concern to take into account animal suffering frequently raises questions about the practice of ritual slaughter, where the animal’s throat is slit without its being first stunned; several associations and movements advocate against this practice (see for example www.abattagerituel.com/). On 24 November, the President of the French Veterinary Council stated at a conference held in the Senate that “any slaughtered animal must be effectively rendered unconscious, prior to bleeding and until the end of the slaughter”, prompting indignation from Haïm Korsia, the Chief Rabbi of France.
The Ministry of Agriculture, in its response of 5 January to a written parliamentary question from the Socialist MP Hervé Féron (Question No. 90855) calling into question exemptions to the obligation to stun animals, recalled that ritual slaughter, carried out without prior stunning of the animal, “falling within the free exercise of worship”, is governed by French and European law and that this derogation to the law “does not infringe on the principle of secularism” (on the legal framework of ritual slaughter, see the chapter on the legal status of religions, and the other specific provisions).
Indicating that the issue remains topical, a working group on ritual slaughter in France has been set up. It is facilitated by the Ministry of the Interior’s Office of Worship and had been planned since the first meeting of the dialogue body with the Muslim faith on 15 June 2015. It plans to publish a practical guide on the subject in March.
The practitioners assert the need for this method of slaughter in the name of their religious precepts; between supporters of religious freedom who deem it necessary that this method of slaughter exists, and supporters of the protection of animals who deem that it causes unnecessary suffering to the animals slaughtered, the debate remains lively.

Anne-Laure Zwilling
  • 15 July 2013: State Council decision on ritual slaughter

Article R. 241-70 of the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code allows for an exception to the obligation to stun animals prior to their slaughter or to being put down, should it be incompatible with the practice of ritual slaughter. An association providing assistance to animals in slaughterhouses (Oeuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoir) had lodged an appeal against the Prime Minister’s refusal to repeal these provisions.

In its decision of 5 July 2013, the Council of State ruled that the provision allowing for the possibility of derogating from the obligation of prior stunning for practising ritual slaughter, which was enacted with the aim of reconciling the objectives of public health policy and equal respect for beliefs and religious traditions, did not violate the principle of secularity. It recalled that the principle of secularity imposes not only equality of all citizens before the law without distinction to religion and with respect for all beliefs, but also that the French Republic guarantees the free exercise of worship.

For further information:
- CE, 5 July 2013, no. 361441, Oeuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoir

Françoise Curtit

D 10 March 2016    AAnne-Laure Zwilling AFrançoise Curtit

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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