A litany of red-button issues come together in legislation just enacted in Denmark. The latitude religious freedom affords, charges of veiled opposition to immigration, anti-Semitism — and who defines that odious mindset — and animal rights conflate in a decision to outlaw the religious slaughter of animals to produce halal or kosher meat.
The decision mirrors a similar prohibition introduced in Belgium last month.
There is a significant halal slaughtering business in Ireland. European regulations require animals to be stunned before slaughter, but allows exemptions on religious grounds.
For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.
Defending the ban, the Danes’ minister for agriculture said “animal rights come before religion”. Unsurprisingly, the move has been described as “anti-Semitic” by Jewish leaders.
“European anti-Semitism is showing its true colours across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions” said Israel’s deputy minister of religious services.
These issues may not enliven the last days of our election campaign, but animal rights are ever more a factor in today’s world, as traditional husbandry has been replaced by industrialised production.
The fate of the surplus of male dairy calves about to be born on Irish farms will feed this debate too. Many of those will be exported alive in conditions that are, at the very best, questionable.