(JTA) — The lower house of the Dutch parliament voted to ban the ritual slaughter of animals, Reuters reported.
Under the bill passed Tuesday, animals are required to be stunned before slaughter. Both Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter must be performed while the animal is fully conscious.
The upper house still must approve the measure, which is being protested by Holland’s Jewish and Muslim communities as an attack on their religious freedom. Some 40,000 Jews and about 1 million Muslims live in the country.
The bill was put forward by the Animal Rights Party, which claims that stunning before slaughter causes less pain to the animal.
The Jewish and Muslim communities have a year to prove otherwise or the law goes into effect.
“This is absolutely impossible to prove,” Netherlands Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs told Reuters. “You can’t ask the animal how it feels afterwards.”
The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Nevertheless, ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) also decried the decision by the Dutch parliament.
CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt called the ban an outrage in that it would prevent Jews from living a Jewish life in Holland, according to a press release sent to the American Jewish World.
“We have passed the stage of arguing the nuances of intention of anti-Semitism. The practical effects of this bill mean that Jews are no longer welcome in The Netherlands. This has not happened for 70 years,” said Goldschmidt.