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L’abattage rituel en Espagne

General presentation

While the Spanish Muslim population has grown significantly over the last two decades, the issue of ritual slaughter has remained rather uncontroversial and little or no research has been done on the topic so far. In the case of Jews, the population has remained quite stable and the provision of meat according to religious precepts has also remained discrete.

The right to religious freedom was fully recognized in Spain for the first time in 1978, when the Constitution was approved. The 1980 act of religious freedom developed this right. Finally, in 1992, the State signed cooperation agreements with the representatives of the Islamic, Jewish and Protestant communities. These agreements developed the reference contained in the Constitution that the Spanish State would establish relations of cooperation with different religious traditions. The agreements recognise a variety of rights in the domains of civil law, religious education, religious leadership, religious holidays, religious care in public institutions, among other things.

Legal aspect

Spain has signed the European Council Directive 93/119/EC of 1993 of the protection of animals. The legal regulation of ritual slaughter in the Spanish legislation remains very general and refers to the existing sanitary law for more details. In Spain, the exemption of pre-stunning is granted for ritual slaughter. Slaughter according to religious precepts has to be done in the existing slaughterhouses, which have to inform the regional authorities that ritual slaughter is being conducted in their facilities (Law 32/2007 on the care of animals, their exploitation, transportation, experimentation and slaughter). Ritual slaughter has to be done under the supervision of an official veterinary (Royal decree 147/1993 and Law 32/2007).

Article 14.3. of the 1992 Cooperation Agreements with the Islamic and Jewish communities states that “slaughtering done according to [Islamic and Jewish] Laws has to respect the sanitary law in force”.

Article 14 of the agreements recognizes “halal” and “kosher” as the denominations for food produced according to Islamic and Jewish law and establishes that the Islamic Commission of Spain and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain will be the bodies in charge of registering the brands in the Register of Industrial Property and granting the kosher and halal certificate to food companies.

It remains unclear if only one institution is officially recognized for the provision of the halal certificate in Spain, since desk research showed that at least three of them appeared as such and were referred to by a national public institution in charge of promoting the internationalization of Spanish companies (ICEX). The halal certificate in Spain is provided by the “Halal Institute”, created over 15 years ago and as part of one of the Islamic religious entities in Spain, Junta Islámica (Islamic Council). Since 2007, “Halal Consulting” also offers this service. A third entity granting the halal certificate in Spain is “Halal Food & Quality”, created in 2012 in Valencia. One difference between the three seems to be that the “Halal Institute” is a non-profit organization, whereas “Halal Consulting” and “Halal Food & Quality” seem to be two companies in the food industry.

The Kashrut Office of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain is the organisation responsible for providing the kosher certification in Spain.

In 2013, the Catalan government edited a guide on the festivity of Eid al Kebir, where a description of the festivity and the sanitary regulations are offered.

Sociological aspect

No sociological research to the best of my knowledge has been conducted in Spain on ritual slaughter. Thus, available data is rather limited.

In the case of halal food, and according to data from the “Halal Institute”, the production of halal meat in Spain is growing constantly, with an important part of the production dedicated to exportation.

In 2011, 35% of the ovine and almost 50% of the bovine production in the Barcelona slaughterhouse was halal. This slaughterhouse offers halal slaughter certified by the “Halal Institute” since 2004 (see the mercabarna website), but bovine ritual slaughter already took place there since 1994 (see the article of La Vanguardia). Nine slaughterers certified by the “Halal Institute” work in the slaughterhouse in Barcelona.

In April 2018, the third edition of the fair on halal food “Expo Halal España” was held in Madrid, organized by a company working on international relations.

Ritual slaughter has not generated vivid controversy in the last years in Spain, although there is an increasing awareness of the discussion. In 2016 the Party for the Rights of Animals (PACMA) has denounced the practices and requested to eliminate the legal exceptions that allow ritual slaughter. The party has proposed to the Congress the discussion of a law called “Law Zero : General Law for the Wellbeing and Protection of Animals”.

D 30 novembre 2018    AJulia Martínez-Ariño

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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