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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 13:42 GMT
German court ends Muslim slaughter ban
Sheep awaiting slaughter
German Muslims have been importing halal meat
Germany's highest court has ruled that Muslim butchers should be allowed to slaughter animals according to Islamic practice - by slitting their throats and letting them bleed to death.

German law says animals cannot be slaughtered without first being stunned, except for religious reasons.

A German court had ruled in 1995 that Islam did not necessarily demand ritual slaughter, making the practice illegal.

We hope this will be an important step in the integration of Muslims in Germany

Head of German Islamic Council
But the constitutional court has now overturned that decision, in a case brought by a Turkish butcher from the German town of Giessen.

The judges ruled that some branches of the Muslim community were indeed obliged to eat religiously-slaughtered meat.

They said a blanket ban could not be imposed on the practice.

The previous decision, they said, had amounted to unacceptable interference with professional freedom, as Muslims were in effect prevented from working as butchers.

After the 1995 ruling, many of Germany's three-million Muslims began buying in halal meat from abroad.

I feel the animal protection side was given too little weight

Animal rights campaigner
"Muslims in Germany imported meat from Belgium, France, Britain and other countries," said the head of Germany's Islamic Council, Hasan Oezdogan.

"Now much more meat will be produced locally.

"We hope this will be an important step in the integration of Muslims in Germany," he added.

Animal rights campaigners have condemned the judges' decision.

"The case pitted freedom of religion on one side against animal rights and I feel the animal protection side was given too little weight," said one campaigner, Eisenhart von Loeper.

See also:

24 Dec 01 | England
Demand grows for Halal turkeys
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