The recent banning of religious slaughter of animals in Denmark has resulted to mixed reactions from people. European regulations require stunning of animals before they are slaughtered in recognition of animal rights. However, prior to the banning that was announced last February, exemptions were allowed for religious slaughter. After the approval of the new law, application for exemption from pre-stunning is no longer entertained.
Jewish and Muslim leaders in Denmark see the new law as infringing on their religious freedom. Based on Jewish and Muslim law, animals that are to be slaughtered for religious purposes must receive a single cut to the throat at a precise point. This is supposed to cause instant death without unnecessary suffering on the part of the animal being slaughtered. Still, many animal rights activists insist that such practice is animal cruelty. Stunning the animal before the slaughter is viewed by many as a compromise. However, many are in the belief as well that stunned animals do not qualify as kosher food.
The decision of the Danish government in this issue, particularly its Agriculture and Food Ministry is based on the premise that animal rights come before religion. Even with the voiced opposition of Jewish and Muslim leaders, there seems to be no real actual effect with regards to kosher food in Denmark. This is because all kosher meat sold in Denmark for at least the past ten years have been imported.
In countries where religious slaughter is allowed especially in the Western world, every phase of the slaughter is monitored by law. It is of great interest to know that no request for exemption from pre-stunning was ever filed in Denmark. All halal slaughtered in Denmark appeared to have been done with stunning.