Netherlands to vote on law banning slaughter of meat by halal and kosher methods

TIMESONLINE… One of Europe’s first countries to allow Jews to practice their religion openly could pass a law banning centuries-old traditions on the ritual slaughter of animals.

An unlikely alliance of an animal rights party and the Freedom Party is behind a ban on kosher and halal slaughter methods in the Netherlands.

They claims the practices inflict unacceptable suffering on animals.

The far right’s support of the bill, which is expected to go to a parliamentary vote this month, is based on its strident hostility towards the Dutch Muslim population.

The Party of Animals, the world’s first such party to be elected to parliament, said humane treatment of animals overrode traditions of tolerance.

But Jewish and Muslim groups have called the bill an affront to freedom of religion. Continue Reading →

Netherlands: Married at thirteen

Why did she go back to her land of origin, twice even? Altuntas: “The Dutch authorities didn’t give her any feeling of security. They had underestimated the danger and Suat felt it.”

The last moments of Suat in the Netherlands, as they could have been: a Middle-Eastern family passing through passport inspection at Schipol. Suat is almost 18. Because of her the family is remigrating. Besides her father, who remains in the Netherlands as breadwinner. What went on in Suat’s head? Half a year later, social workers don’t know whether she’s alive. The remigration took them completely by surprise.

Suat, 18 years old, has already lived an adult’s life. She had been married off, probably when she was 13, maybe when she was 15, it remains unclear if it was in the Netherlands or in her land of origin. The ‘wedding’ started off a life of rape, abuse, shelters and social help. Professionals have been discussing her case for years, and yet it went wrong. Since March, Suat has disappeared without a trace. The police is preparing a case against her husband.

In the reconstruction, Dutch newspaper Trouw met a lot of silence, denials and requests not to publish ‘in the interests of the residents of the Hague’, because of ‘the girl’s safety’ or for the sake of the criminal case. One person broke the code of silence. Social worker Celal Altuntas spoke to the paper about Suat. The police of Haaglanden responded with anger and intimidation.

Altuntas was until recently a member of the Core Team of Honor Related Violence (KEG), which is a collaborative effort of the police and other authorities. In a KEG training session, on May 14 2009, the police started a pilot with Suat’s case-file. Trouw has the text. Altuntas recognizes the story. In November 2008 he urgently advised the girl, then in a shelter, against returning to her parents. The Youth Service threw that to the winds. Altuntas heard at the training session in May that Suat disappeared.

He decided to break the code of silence within the KEG. Authorities have an obligation to secrecy but can, despite it, speak to each other in the KEG. Continue Reading →