MPs from the liberal Palikot Movement voting against re-legalising 'ritual slaughter' in Poland: photo - PAP/Jakub Kamiński
“I cannot image how I am to continue as chief rabbi in a country where the rights of Jews are not complete,” Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich told Radio Zet on Sunday.
On Friday, the lower house of parliament rejected a bill legalising Jewish shechita and Muslim dhabiha slaughter methods in Poland after its Constitutional Court ruled last December that the practice contravened the country's animal rights legislation.
Before the vote last week, farmers protested in Warsaw, claiming the ban is hitting Poland's meat exports.
Animal rights protesters also demonstrated, however, saying that the slaughtering methods, without the animal first being stunned, are cruel.
“Ritual slaughter has been demonized in this country, when, in fact, it is not as brutal as it is being presented,” Schudrich said.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has said the vote in parliament was partly affected by the “anti-Jewish sentiment of some MPs”.
A joint statement by Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, and Chief Rabbi Schudrich said: “The completely untrue idea that such slaughter is cruel, or even intentionally cruel, has triumphed.”
“This idea gained popularity in Europe in the 1930s, when Norway and Sweden, under the influence of Nazi propaganda, banned ritual slaughter,” the statement continued.
MPs were relieved of party discipline during the vote last week and voting was left to the individual consciences of politicians on what was seen as a moral issue, with several members of the ruling Civic Platform voting against the government's bill to reinstate kosher and halal slaughtering methods.
Andrzej Rozenek, liberal MP for the Palikot Movement, the third largest party in the lower house (Sejm), challenged the idea that Poland is facing large losses in exports to Israel, Turkey and elsewhere since the ban came into force late last year.
“Even if we were talking about significant losses – and we’re not – there is no permission for animal cruelty in the name of money,” he said.
An opinion poll taken in March by GFK Polonia found that 61 percent of Poles favoured maintaining the ban .(pg)