Some Germans intolerant of Islamic animal slaughter


German flag (Photo: Patentboy/Flickr)

Animal rights are a big issue in Germany. It is currently the fifth largest meat producer in the world, butchering the third largest number of pigs in the world, more than 55 million per year. The way Germans slaughter the animals they eat is strictly regulated, more so than in most EU countries. But German concern for animals also has a dark side. The Nazis vilified the Jewish method of slaughtering animals. And today, the Germans do not tolerate the tradition of its four million Muslims. The methods of slaughtering animals are much the same for Jews and Muslims: both prohibit animals from being stunned or stunned before being slaughtered and both use the same type of knife. Reuven Yaacobov is a rabbi in Berlin and a shochet, someone trained to slaughter animals according to Jewish law. “The knife has no tip,” ?? he said. “Its shape is rectangular so it cannot be used for stabbing only for cutting. And it has to be as sharp as a razor blade.” Yaacobov says kosher or halal slaughter methods are more humane and animal-friendly. Not like the common industrial methods in Germany, which do not recognize the sacrifice an animal makes of its life. But historically, it is the Germans who view Jewish butchery as cruel and bloodthirsty. The famous Nazi propaganda film “The Eternal Jew” ?? shows bloody scenes of Jews slaughtering animals. “These images reveal the character of a race of people who conceal their brutality under the guise of religious piety. …Immediately after taking power, the Füher passed a law ensuring that all warm-blooded animals would be stunned before “be slaughtered. And so Jewish blood can never infect the German people again.” ?? Kosher butchers went bankrupt overnight. But after World War II – and after slaughtering 6 million Jews – you could say that the Germans lost the moral authority to tell anyone what kind of killing was humane. Today, Germany has a small but vibrant Jewish community and kosher slaughter is permitted. But Germany also has a huge Muslim population, mostly from Turkey. The German authorities became less tolerant of their practice. Its Federal Administrative Court, one of the highest courts in the land, ruled in 1995 that Muslims must stun animals before killing them, unlike Jews. Every Muslim butcher in Germany either agreed to stun or pretended to. All but one Muslim butcher: Rüstem Altinküpe, a Fleischermeister, the highest qualification a butcher in Germany can attain. Since 1988 he has lived in the center of a medieval village called Werdorf, in the state of Hesse where most of the 3,100 inhabitants are German. Downstairs is a butcher and a small slaughterhouse. He and his family live above. For seven years, Altinküpe’s butcher’s shop worked well and he invested in the latest technology. But then in 1995 came the ban. He saw it as an attack on a fundamental right “Jews can practice the same form of animal slaughter as Muslims but I, as a Muslim, cannot”, ?? says Altinkupe. Altinküpe found a lawyer who agreed that it was an injustice. “Because people living in Germany of Muslim faith who want to obey stricter dietary rules, they can’t be told to become vegetarians, they can’t be told to buy imported food,” ?? said German constitutional scholar Rainer Nickel. Nickel represented Altinküpe all the way to the German equivalent of the Supreme Court. She delivered her judgment in 2002. “The Constitutional Court ruled in our favor and in the decision expressly states that we have found a violation of fundamental rights and the case has been referred to the administrative court”, ?? Nickel said. End of story…or so it seems. “On the one hand, we have won everything, but on the other, we have won the battle, but we have lost the war”,? Nickel said. And since then, Nickel and Altinküpe have been running around in German bureaucratic circles. “It’s very complex and very complicated. I can’t even count the times we’ve been to court”, ?? Nickel said. They have appeared in federal and state courts, appeals courts and the Constitutional Court – twice. And they won every time. But the problem is that the courts do not issue licenses. That job falls to a district administrator named Reinhard Strack-Schmalor. “We have an extra binder just for Altinküpe,” ?? said Strack-Schmalor. “For me personally the case is a huge burden and I get pressure from animal rights activists, and I can tell you here that I am also being pushed by the far right.” ?? That is, the neo-Nazis, whose traditional hatred of Jews is now mainly directed against Muslims. A few years ago, Altinküpe’s house was burnt down. Strack-Schmalor certainly didn’t approve, and he insists he has nothing against Muslims. But despite the rulings of so many German courts, he still thinks Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to shoot without stunning, because in Islam there are ways around that. Needless to say, Altinküpe doesn’t think Strack-Schmalor knows what he’s talking about. You don’t have to go to a Muslim country, he says. In the United States, in France, in the United Kingdom, Muslim butchers are all authorized to slaughter without stunning. But what really infuriates Altinküpe is that a local German bureaucrat can impose his interpretation of Islam. Even after Germany’s highest court overturned the ban on halal slaughter, Strack-Schmalor found all sorts of technicalities to delay or prevent licensing Altinküpe. “So we were again in the situation where we had to go to court and challenge all of these conditions individually.” ?? Nickel said. Last year Altinküpe got a license, but only to slaughter 30 sheep and 2 cows per week. But this year, Strack-Schmalor said it was reviewing the license, and so far the slaughterhouse has remained inactive. Altinküpe still hopes that in modern Germany justice will eventually prevail. The Jews of Germany do not yet speak in his name. Some say it is none of their business and fear losing their right to slaughter. Others argue that if anyone is going to talk about religious freedoms, it should be Germany’s Jewish population.

There is no more story.
Next Berlin's meat market reverts to 'tailor-made' cattle slaughter