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Austrian State Might Limit Sale Of Kosher Meat To Registered Jews

(JTA) — A regional politician in Austria defended a plan to limit access to kosher meat, conditioning its sale on permits that would be individually issued to observant Jews.

The Wiener Zeitung daily reported about the draft decree in the state of Lower Austria, one of nine states that make up the federal Republic of Austria. Gottfried Waldhäusl, the cabinet minister in the state government of Lower Austria who is in charge of animal welfare and several other portfolios, defended the plan as necessary “from an animal welfare point of view.”

Oskar Deutsch, the president of the Jewish Community in Vienna, warned that, in practice, the plan would require compiling a list of Jews, which he called “like a negative Aryan clause,” referencing racist laws passed by Nazi Germany and implemented in Austria after its merger with Germany in 1938.

Jewish and Muslim religious laws require animals be conscious when their throats are cut for the mean to be kosher or halal, respectively. Judaism imposes stricter limitations on how animals should be slaughtered to ensure a swift dispatching. Critics of the production of kosher and halal meat say it is cruel, though advocates of the practices argue they cause less suffering overall because they are designed to be as painless as possible and cannot be fully mechanized.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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