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Danish ban worries Williams

by
28 February 2014

by a staff reporter

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has written to the Danish Ambassador in London expressing his "profound concern" at the Danish government's recent ban on the practice of Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter of animals.

The ban means that kosher and halal meat will have to be imported.

Lord Williams, now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, expressed his support for the enshrining in law of humane treatment of animals. He is said tobe concerned, however, that the Danish ban might by seen by both minority-ethnic communities as hostile, and lead Denmark to risk being accused of being anti-Semitic and anti-Islam.

The right of freedom of religion and religious expression is something enshrined in European law, and it is crucial that Jewish and Muslim communities do not feel themselves further threatened or marginalised in Europe, he said.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, is also understood to have made representations about the ban, which came into force this month, as have the Christian Muslim Forum and the Council of Christians and Jews.

Under European regulations, animals are required to be stunned before slaughter unless an exemption can be found on religious grounds. But for meat to be kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.

Lord Williams's former adviser on interfaith matters, Canon Guy Wilkinson, said that he was also writing to the Danish ambassador to challenge the statement by the Danish agriculture minister Dan Joergensen that "animal rights come before religion." He said that strong representations were also being made to the European Union.

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