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March 10, 1999

Government to enforce EU regulation on 'Id al-Adha open air slaughter

At a press conference held on February 25 with Asian newspapers, Farm Animal Welfare Minister, Elliott Morley, warned that the Government would begin enforcing EU regulations on open air slaughter this year during the 'Id al-Adha celebrations, reports The Muslim News. The 1995-EU regulation says animals must only be slaughtered in licensed slaughterhouses. However, he emphasised that Muslims and Jews will continue to be exempt from stunning the animal before slaughter.

He also said that this year the Government will be "sensitive" to the way the law is enforced: "We are not unreasonable about this. If we find that people are unaware, then they will be warned."

Last year, in at least two places, Basildon and near Luton, Muslims slaughtered animals in open air in farms. This was due to lack of capacity in slaughterhouses.

The Muslim community has expressed concerns about the capacity of slaughterhouses. The Minister has assured Muslims that slaughterhouses will be available to overcome the increase in the number of sheep slaughtered during 'Id al-Adha. He said: "I recognise in particular that Muslims will have concerns about the practical implications of this and in particular as to whether licensed slaughterhouses will be ready to provide sufficient halal capacity to meet the Muslim community's needs at the time of 'id al-Adha." He also promised to inform the slaughter houses that Muslims are exempt from stunning animals before slaughter as many were ignorant of the law.
Elliott Morley said the Muslim community has supported the Government's position. "I have found them sensible, well informed and they have the interest of the Muslim community at heart," he said. Morley added that he has not had any complaints from the Muslim community regarding the proposals
The Amendment to the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) will come into force on March 16 "in time for the festival of 'id al-Adha this year," said the Minister. The Amendment, targeting particularly at the Muslim community, states: "Prohibition against slaughter by a religious method elsewhere than in a slaughterhouse. No person shall slaughter any animal by a religious method, or cause or permit any animal to be so slaughtered, elsewhere than in a slaughterhouse licensed under regulation 4 of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995(a)." This amendment revokes the provision which previously permitted religious slaughter under supervision outside of slaughterhouses."

Notes for the Editors: The Government has had three meetings with the Muslim community in since November last year to discuss this issue. 'Id al-Adha is celebrated yearly during the pilgrimage to Makkah. It falls on or about March 28 this year.

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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