Le Pen: Kind To Animals But Not To People – Analysis

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate in the French presidential elections, said she will ban halal slaughter of animals if she is elected, along with any other method of ritual slaughter (i.e. kosher) done without stunning.

Le Pen, made the statement Tuesday (4/25/17) during a campaign visit at a meat market near Paris. She did not openly mention the kosher slaughter of animals, but everyone understood what she meant by “any other method of ritual slaughter done without stunning”.

Both halal and kosher slaughter require animals be conscious when their throats are slit — a practice that critics say is cruel; but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanized methods used in non-kosher abattoirs.

Muslims slaughter animals in a similar method to Jews, but with many fewer restrictions, to produce halal meat. “I would say that I think that 90 percent of abattoirs are halal” in the Paris region, Le Pen said.

In Europe, the Jewish and Muslim rituals like circumcision and ritual slaughter have united opponents both from liberal circles who cite animal welfare as their main concern; and right-wing nationalists who view the custom as foreign to their countries’ Christian or secular cultures.

Both Islam and Judaism put great emphasis on animal welfare, and adhere to a one-cut method of slaughter, intended to ensure the animal’s rapid death. Under Jewish and Islamic law, animals for slaughter must be healthy and uninjured at the time of death, which rules out driving a bolt into the brain – though some Muslim authorities accept forms of stunning that can be guaranteed not to kill the animal.

Under Orthodox Jewish law the animal’s neck is cut with a surgically sharp knife, severing its major arteries, causing a massive drop in blood pressure followed by death from loss of blood. Supporters say unconsciousness comes almost instantaneously – the cut itself stunning the animal. A similar procedure is used in Islamic slaughter, or dhabiha.

Both Islam and Judaism stress that diet should not just be about calories. A religious diet is an exercise in spiritual discipline and in God consciousness. We do not eat only to ‘fuel up’ like a machine. Nor should we eat only to enjoy ourselves.

Most Christians, especially Protestants, have a hard time understanding why Jews and Muslims think what you eat is important. Why should people restrict their culinary pleasures? Don’t most people think that being happy is the most important thing? Isn’t eating one of the most accessible pleasures we have? Why should religions restrict our daily pleasures?

From the Jewish and Muslim point of view, God has given us a diet that is good for us physically and spiritually. That diet is found in the Bible, in the later Jewish legal writings, and in the Qur’an and Sharia law.

Like all diets, a Kosher or Halal Holy Diet must be followed daily, to be effective. Like all diets, you should not become a fanatic in following this diet. Moral issues are more important than any one particular part of the diet.

Nevertheless, like all diets, and all forms of spiritual exercise and meditation, the more frequently you fail to keep your Kosher or Halal Holy Diet, the less you will benefit from it.


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Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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