San Diego International Law Journal


R J. Delahunty

Document Type



Western European governments since the eighteenth century Enlightenment have frequently enacted laws and regulations that have adverse effects (sometimes intended) on traditional Jewish ritual practices, including Sabbath observance, dress, and dietary practices. Regulations of the latter kind have often been adopted in the name of sparing animals from the purportedly cruel and inhumane methods used in the Jewish ritual slaughtering of cattle. Last year, the Danish Ministry of Food and Agriculture issued regulations that require the stunning of cattle before they can be slaughtered. Defended on the grounds of animal welfare, the regulations had the foreseen effect of precluding the use of traditional Jewish—and most Muslim—ritual slaughtering practices, which forbid pre-slaughter stunning. This paper examines the Danish ban in light of the centuries-long history in Scandinavia and elsewhere in northern Europe of enacting “hygienic” and “humane” legislation of this type. The paper concludes that the regulation does little or nothing to promote animal welfare and is in fact probably a reflection of Danish society’s discomfort with the country’s growing Muslim population.