Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inhumane Swedish Slaughter of Rabbits Acceptable, But Kosher Slaughter Illegal

Sweden, a country which prides itself on its progressive policies, has recently been rocked by the exposure of cruel and inadequate government policy regulating the slaughter of rabbits. Basically, the only legal method of rabbit slaughter, using a bolt gun, results in about one-third fail rate. This means that despite being shot in the head, the bunnies are still alive and must be shot again to finally kill them.  This is bad enough, but given that the overwhelming majority of sensory receptors in rabbits are located in the head makes Swedish mandatory use of the bolt gun even crueler.  

A graphic video showing the brutal slaughter method ran on Swedish Television’s Rapport, and generated outrage among many viewers at seeing such a thing so near to the dinner hour.  Yet the trend is that Swedes are consuming an increasing amount of rabbit meat.

Dinner, however, is not the only destination of brutalized bunnies in Sweden.  As documented a little over a year ago in the Local in an article entitledStockholm's bunnies burned to keep Swedes warm”
-“The bodies of thousands of rabbits culled every year from the parks in Stockholm’s Kungsholmen neighbourhood are being used to fuel a heating plant in central Sweden.”
Many of these rabbits are pets whose owners have tired of them and simply dump the bunnies in public parks where they eat the flowers, reproduce, and become pests. The solution:

-“Animal control authorities employ a special rifle to shoot the excess rabbits, with most of the culling taking place at dawn when the animals peek out from their holes.”

Here again we have what must be inhumane kills—if a confined rabbits in slaughter house have a failed kill rate of 30%, what must the fail rate be for those hopping around loose in the park? It’s probably about as bad as the animals hunted in Sweden’s wilderness areas, by both tourists and native Swedes. Sweden is a prime destination for hunters. A Google search turns up quite a number of pricey vacation packages for hunters who want to pursue game in Sweden’s northern wilderness, shooting a variety of  birds, deer , elk, wild boar, beavers, fox, etc.

This from the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management (Svenska Jägareförbundet) website :

-“Hunting is a popular sport in Sweden. There are almost 300,000 hunters, of whom nearly 200,000 have chosen to join the Svenska Jägareförbundet. “

Despite the fact that shooting animals for sport or convenience is commonly accepted practice in Sweden, Sweden is the only EU member nation to prohibit kosher slaughter.  Allegedly this is for “humanitarian reasons”, yet as we have seen, humanitarian principles do not guide the shooting of rabbits and wild animals in Sweden. This certainly contravenes the EU directive, that the animals are spared any avoidable pain or suffering.”

Although no slaughter method is aesthetically pleasing, the point of kosher slaughter is to kill the animals as painlessly as possible with only one knife cut.  The same EU legislation cited above recognizes kosher slaughter as an acceptable alternative practice.

Mikael Tossavainen in his article Jewish-Muslim Relations in Sweden” notes:

-“Sweden has a longstanding ban on the religious slaughter of cattle. This ban is generally uncontroversial in Sweden, and the Animal Protection Act stands against the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion. ...The protection of animals (italics mine) has so far prevailed over any attempts to have the ban on shechita and halal slaughter lifted.”

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, in his book  Behind the Humanitarian Mask, notes that in Germany, kosher slaughter
-“was prohibited only during the Nazi period. In Norway, however, the ban was introduced three years before the Nazis took power in Germany and continues till today, whereas Muslim ceremonial slaughter (hallal) is permitted. Compassion for animals does not explain the ban on shechita [kosher slaughter], since hunting is permitted and popular in Norway...[and] hunted prey often suffers a much slower and more painful death than in Jewish ritual slaughter.”
Clearly the ban on kosher slaughter in Norway is driven not by humanitarianism, but by anti-Semitism.

Given that animal protection has been shown to be largely a sham in Sweden, and capitulation to its Muslim population is becoming increasingly the modus operandi for politicians such as the Social Democrats, how long will Sweden continue to uphold a ban on hallal slaughter? The issue is not the humane aspect of hallal slaughter, but whether Sweden’s next step will be to imitate Norway, and allow Muslims to practice hallal slaughter in Sweden, while continuing to ban kosher slaughter—à la Quisling.

This post was written by Chanah Shapira. Thanks to Dorit Jacobson for animal physiology pointers.

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