The slaughter of animals by the kosher method is the most painless one and should be allowed, Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin said in a letter sent to the House speaker and members of parliament on Tuesday.
“We have already carried out slaughters in Cyprus under the supervision of the veterinary services,” the rabbi said. “We note that the officials of these services were impressed with the whole process and how the animal suffering is minimised. They were also impressed by the thorough examination by rabbis of each animal after it was slaughtered.”
He argued the export of animals slaughtered in Cyprus in slaughterhouses approved by Israel to EU member states should be allowed since kosher slaughter is in accordance with the EU’s legislation.
“National legislation needs to be amended to be compatible with European legislation that fully respects freedom of religion, including religious slaughter,” the letter said.
“The pending bill regarding the kosher slaughter should be approved as soon as possible by Parliament.”
As for exports to Israel, Cyprus will not be fined or sanctioned by the European Union. Veterinary services in Israel have already approved some Cypriot slaughterhouses and are willing to approve any other slaughterhouse that complies with their basic standards.
Regardless of the current crisis, kosher meat exports provide many opportunities for Cyprus in the long run, he concluded.
Animal breeders argue that the introduction of kosher slaughter was necessary for their survival since they have been hit hard from the suspension of the operations of hotels and restaurants but also by the cancellation of big Easter celebrations where lamb and goat meat is usually consumed.
Animal lovers however have begged to differ saying the concession on religious grounds should not apply to mass exports. They say the practice of kosher slaughter is cruel as the animal is not stunned before it is killed.
To this Raskin replied in April that “the specific knife used for Kosher slaughter has to be so sharp that a person can cut his own finger without feeling it, so the animal never feels the cutting sensation either”.