15. Mai 2003

Interview von Radio BBC mit Erwin Kessler zum Schächten in Europa

(Transkription ab Bandaufzeichnung)

Erwin Kessler (EK): Ritual slaughtering has been forbidden in Switzerland 100 years ago - people wanted that. So this is long tradition.
Also then - Jewish people said the reason would be not animal protection but anti Aemitism and everyone in this 100 years and every voice against ritual slaughtering was attacked with this argument of anti Semitism.  This is not true of course.

Why is it now necessary to extend law?

EK: One year ago Swiss government had planed to abandon the prohibition of ritual slaughter and this provoked a very great opposition among Swiss people, so the government dropped this plan and we have now the same situation as before, but this launched a nationwide discussion to this problem so we took the chance to demand also the ban of import of kosher meat. Because when it can be imported freely, as it is today, the banning of ritual slaughter is useless - it has no effect in favour of animal protection, because the animals are not slaughtered here but on the other side of the border. And we want to help the animals and nothing else. It can only have an effect if the importat of ritual slaughtered meat is forbidden. That is the reasons why we demand this.

What support do you think there is for this ban amongst the Swiss population?

EK: It's strange - if you talk to people everyone supports it. But on the other hand, our referendum has no success because people are lazy - we got not the necessary numbers of signatures - it's a question of egoism - people don't want to do much - but if you ask them, they have the right opinion!  But to get 100,000 signatures that's enormous work.

Swiss is unique in that people can take matters in their own hands and call for a referendum - what steps have you taken recently?

EK: We started a referendum and we have 1 year to get 100,000 signatures which are approved by officials, but we didn't reach that number.

How many petition notes did you send out?

EK: 2.7 million - that means to every address in German Switzerland. We have distributed our magazine with a sheet that has to be signed and sent back - and this work of signing a card and sending it back is for many people too much work; a question of egoism, that's the problem for referendums here.

Do you find the Swiss are equally outraged by other animal issues like injecting hormones in meat or live animal transportation or the production of foie gras or the castration of piglets without anaesthetic? Do these issues raise a similar amount of concern?

EK: At the same time another animal protection society started another referendum against such cruelties in industrial animal husbandry  - and this referendum has succeeded. Swiss people for a long time have been in favour of animals. But the government is conservative and against animal protection because it is a handicap for international trade agreements.

Who supports you in the government?

EK: Our government is always against animal protection. The law came into force because the population wanted it.

Jewish community is 18,000 in Switzerland; not all of them need kosher meat. What solution for the 3,000 that do require kosher meat?

EK: Vegetarianism - no one is forced by any religion to eat meat. Eating meat is like smoking or drinking. It's not necessary for a sane
nourishment. If someone wants to eat meat that hasn't been produced in a humane way then he should change to vegetarianism.

Some Jews say if you are going to put the rights of animals above ours, that's anti Semitic.

EK: I don't see any connection between wanting to eat meat and religion. It's not a question of religion.  If religion does inhibit to eat something, that's ok, but no religion does force anyone to eat meat at all. And we are today in a modern world and cannot accept many things that have been prescribed by religion in earlier times. Like stoning women that has been abandonned ritual
slaughter is a very brutal thing and should be given up too.

The Jews say their kosher laws are designed to be humane - stunning is more painful when it misses several hits - how do you answer?

EK: Stunning of animals can be brutal if it's not done correctly. But correctly done the animal has no sense of it. I have seen many times animals being stunned in slaughterhouses, and if it's done correctly then it's perfectly humane.  On the other hand, ritual slaughtering can never be humane - I have seen it myself and I have seen much documentation and it's definitely very very cruel. I want to tell you a short story. I have a video showing modern shechita slaughter in Great Britain. A copy of that we have sent to all our members. One member is living in Great Britain and the British customs have confiscated that videocassette based on a British law that bans brutal
videos. That means that it is allowed to do brutalities to living beings, but it is forbidden to see that. That's hypocrisy in perfection.

Erwin Kessler: Animal rights activist in Switzerland.


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