Pro-religious slaughter e-petition smashes signature target

An e-petition calling for non-stun slaughter to be supported in the UK and the EU has smashed through its 100,000 signature target, only days after it was launched.

The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, together with the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, decided to launch the petition, which began collecting signatures on 13 February.

It calls for a focus on improving the competence of slaughterers, rather than simply attacking non-stun slaughter methods, which it claims have been shown to minimise suffering.

The total number of signatories now stands at more than 122,000 – more than the counter-petition from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) – with the issue now eligible for debate in parliament.

The debate on the issue of non-stun slaughter, following the BVA’s successful e-petition, is due to take place at Westminster Hall at 4.30pm today (23 February).

John Blackwell, president at the BVA, said: "The BVA has long argued that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain and we are pleased that the British public has got so firmly behind our campaign, which is based on scientific evidence.

"For BVA and our members, this is a matter of animal welfare at slaughter, plain and simple. We have never – nor would we – argue against religious slaughter. We categorically refute any suggestion that this is an anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish campaign.

"We have met with, and are keen to continue our positive discussions with, representatives of the halal and kosher meat industry to explore where we can work together to improve animal welfare at slaughter.

However Jewish organisation Shechita UK has accused the BVA of being "negligent, obsessed and politically driven".

Shimon Cohen, director of Shechita UK, said: "There have been two comprehensive and balanced debates on religious slaughter in little over a year, for animal welfare groups to push for a third is wild-eyed and obsessive.

"The BVA are currently being negligent in their duty to protect animals. If there is a genuine interest in improving animal welfare standards at time of slaughter, we need to look at many areas like abattoir practices, CCTV and mis-stunning. This fixation with religious slaughter beggars belief."

Meanwhile the Halal Monitoring Committee UK has said the BVA’s petition smacks of hypocrisy, as recent footage highlighted in the media shows the abuse of animals in both stun and non-stun slaughterhouses.

"How many members of the public, or indeed, members of parliament are actually aware of the greater abuse and longer-term suffering of animals before they reach the slaughterhouse?" it asks. "And how many have bothered to find out about the abuses that are occurring in non-religious slaughterhouses, including those labelled as organic."

It said the demands from consumers should be that wherever and however animal slaughter takes place, it is done with the utmost care for the animal.

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