Bourgeois: "Politics come before religion"

The Flemish bill to ban unstunned slaughter for smaller animals is getting thumbs down from the Jewish and Muslim communities. However, Flemish politicians are determined to move ahead with the fresh legislation. "Political decisions come before religious rules", the Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) says.

The coalition parties making up the majority in Flemish Parliament (Flemish nationalists of N-VA, Christian democrats of CD&V and liberals of Open VLD) reached an accord on a compromise proposal on stunned slaughter, it was announced yesterday (see 'Earlier reports').

This was worked out by Piet Vanthemsche, who spent almost a year to take soundings from the different players involved in the issue (animal welfare organisations, the abattoirs, the different religious communities etc.) The text even has the approval of the opposition parties SP.A (socialists) and Groen (greens). 

However, late yesterday, it became clear that neither the Jewish community nor Muslim organisations accept the text.

Weyts: "It's up to us to make the final decision"

The Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) said the government won't change its course, but that they will engage in further talks with the religious communities. "Look at the integration course for newcomers: it contains a passage stating that Belgian law goes before religious rules. I think we should keep calm and approach this sensibly. It's a step forward for animal welfare with respect to people's religion."

The Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) adds that "we will continue the process to introduce this fresh legislation. It's a pity that the religious communities reject it. You can engage in a dialogue with them, but it's up to us to make the final decision."