John Blackwell, president of the British Veterinary Association, recently released a controversial appeal to the British government to outlaw all halal and kosher slaughter of animals. This statement, most likely a snowball effect from Denmark’s ban of such rituals, has created ripples in the multi-religious society of Britain. Many religious leaders have come forth to accuse Blackwell of ‘inflaming prejudice’ in a society already plagued with other religious issues.


The justification behind Blackwell’s statement is simple: animal rights come before religion. As a veterinarian, he asserts that the animal has a right to die with minimal pain. Generally, store-bought animals are killed through the process of stunning; eliminating all pain from the animal. Traditionally, halal and kosher meat are provided through the process of ritualistic slaughter, a process through which the animals are conscious for up to two minutes before death. This ritual, Blackwell insists, is an act of cruelty and should be outlawed by the British government.


More shocking than Blackwell’s controversial claims are those of the general public. Many British citizens have taken to the internet to voice their views on the subject. Many words – specifically the words ‘barbaric’ and ‘backwards’ – have been used to describe the traditions of the Islamic and Jewish people. Under the cover of anonymity, many have disparaged the religious beliefs of other British citizens. For the proponents of animal rights, it is difficult to understand the need to put animals through pain in order to consume them. However, according to Islam and Judaism, animals cannot be consumed without the painful ritual.


In Islam:


  • Animals must be slaughtered by having its throat severed while it is still conscious.
  • During this process, the butcher has to recite a religious verse for the sacrifice.
  • All the blood has to be drained from the animal as the consumption of blood is forbidden for Muslims.


In Judaism:


  • Any animal that is slaughtered has to meet kosher rules and has to be healthy.
  • A sharp knife is used to sever the animal’s throat, creating a drop in blood pressure that eventually renders the animal unconscious.
  • This ritual is the Jewish way of showing respect and compassion to an animal that sacrifices its life for man’s consumption.



These rituals show us that these religions do not set out to barbarically torture the animals. Rather, it is a necessary part of their religious laws that this is the way they must be treated, as a mark of respect for the sacrifice they make for mankind. It is an essential part of Islam and Judaism – banning this procedure would do nothing but create a divide in society and force halal and kosher meat butchers to operate illegally. It may also appear like a deliberate crackdown on minority rights.


Do animal rights trump minority rights in Britain? Let’s hope this is not the kind of choice we will need to be making in the future.

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