The Dutch parliament voted on Tuesday to ban ritual/religious slaughter of animals by Muslims and Jews, a move strongly opposed by the country's both minorities, but it has left a loophole that might let religious butchering continue.
The bill by the small Animal Rights Party, the first such group in Europe to win seats in a national parliament, passed the lower house of parliament by 116 votes to 30. It must be approved by the upper house before becoming law.
It stipulates that animals must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws that require animals to be fully conscious.
"This way of killing causes unnecessary pain to animals. Religious freedom cannot be unlimited," said Marianne Thieme, head of the Animal Rights Party, said before the vote. "For us religious freedom stops where human or animal suffering begins."
In unison the Netherlands' Muslim and Jewish communities , numbering about 1m and 40,000 respectively in a total population of 16m - have condemned the proposed ban as a violation of their religious rights.