The law legalizing ritual slaughter of livestock, which was passed by the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, has attracted controversy. While the local Jewish Community of Lithuania welcomed the law, animal rights activists said they will turn to the European Commission.
© „Mano ūkis“

The Lithuanian Jewish Community on Tuesday welcomed the move to legalize ritual slaughter of livestock.

"I can only welcome the step and thank for it on behalf of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and I believe on behalf of Jewish communities in Europe," the community's chairman Faina Kukliansky told BNS.

In her words, the parliament's decision to allow the slaughter of non-stunned animals according to religious requirements starting next year is important to Lithuania's Jews, incoming guests and Lithuania's economy.

Kukliansky said that slaughter of non-stunned animals may open meat markets in Israel and other European countries.

"I am not only a representative of the Jewish community, but also a citizen of Lithuania, and I am happy that Lithuanian farmers will now be able to find new markets. It is a very good and wise step for Lithuania's economy," said the community's leader.

According to the last 2011 census, 3,000 Jewish people live in Lithuania, however, merely a third confess the Judaism.

"I believe the Jewish lifestyle, as well as the religious life, is being reborn in Lithuania. Therefore, adoption of this law is extremely important for the Jews of Lithuania," said Kukliansky.

The ritual slaughter of non-stunned animals, which is commonplace in Jewish and Muslim communities, was banned in Poland as of 2013 after the country's Constitutional Court ruled that the practice is inconsistent with the animal rights laws. The Polish ban drew critical reactions from Israel and some local farmers.

Animals rights activists to turn to Brussels

Animals rights activists have pledged to turn to the European Commission (EC) over the amendments that legalize ritual slaughter of livestock, unless they are vetoed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Brigita Kymantaitė, leader of the Lithuanian Animals Rights Protection Organization, said the amendments adopted on Tuesday violate the European Union (EU) regulations that stipulate a principle of stunning animals prior to slaughter.

"Today's discussion is merely an opinion expressed by members of the Seimas. But there is also the president, there is also the European Commission regulation on protection of animals up for slaughter. We think the amendments definitely violate the provisions of the regulation. If the president's will goes against animals, we will turn to the European Commission with a request to clarify whether the provision is in line with European legal acts," Kymantaitė told BNS.

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