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Poland’s top court says ban on kosher slaughter unconstitutional

Warsaw | Reuters — Poland’s top court ruled Wednesday a ban on traditional Jewish slaughter methods was unconstitutional, bringing relief to Jews in a country scarred by Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.

A previous 2012 court verdict had effectively banned Jewish production of kosher meat, backing animal rights groups who said it was cruel to kill animals without first stunning them.

Jewish communities said this threatened their right to freely practice their faith, arguing that ancient kosher slaughter practices meant animals had to be conscious when they were killed.

“The protection of animals does not take priority over constitutional guarantees of religious freedom,” the constitutional court said in a statement.

Its decision are definitive and cannot be challenged.

“This ruling is satisfactory,” said Piotr Kadlcik, a board member of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. “The tribunal gave a very good signal that Poland is not an anti-Semitic country.”

Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the outbreak of war in 1939, but the Holocaust all but wiped it out. Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka were located on Polish soil.

Reporting for Reuters by Marcin Goettig in Warsaw.

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