Ritual Slaughter, Animal Welfare and the Freedom of Religion

A Critical Discourse Analysis of a Fierce Debate in the Dutch Lower House

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
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  • 1 University of Groningen

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In 2011, the Dutch House of Representatives voted for the first time in its history for banning the practice of unstunned ritual slaughter in accordance to Jewish and Islamic rites. How should this remarkable vote be understood? In order to answer this question, a critical discourse analysis has been carried out. Three discourses are discerned in the debate: ‘unstunned ritual slaughter as an outdated practice,’ ‘ritual slaughter as a form of ritual torture’ and ‘unstunned ritual slaughter as a legitimate religious practice.’ The growing parliamentary support for the first two mentioned discourses is related to recent changes in the Dutch political landscape. In a wider context, it is related to a shift in the national self-conception of the Netherlands and, linked to that, to a change in the perceived position of traditional religious minorities within Dutch society in the aftermath of 9/11 and the ‘Fortuyn revolt.’

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     Cf. Lody van de Kamp, Dagboek van een verdoofd rabbijn. Persoonlijke notities bij een politieke aardverschuiving (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2012).

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    Norman Fairclough, Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language (London: Longman, 1995); John E. Richardson, Analysing Newspapers. An Approach From Critical Discourse Analysis (New York: Palgrave, 2007); Titus Hjelm, ‘Discourse analysis’, in: M. Strausberg & S. Engler (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion (London / New York: Routledge, 2011), 134–150; Titus Hjelm, “Religion, Discourse and Power: A Contribution towards a Critical Sociology of Religion”, Critical Sociology 40/6 (2014), 855–872.

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     Cf. Arend Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation. Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).

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     Cf. Ruud Koopmans, “Multiculturalism and Immigration: A Contested Field in Cross-National Comparison,” Annual Review Sociology 39 (2013), 147–169.

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     Cf. Matti Bunzl, Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Hatred Old and New in Europe (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2007).

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     Cf. Shadid & Van Koningsveld, Islam in Dutch Society, 22.

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     Cf. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London/ New York: Verso, 2006); wrr, Identificatie met Nederland (Amsterdam: aup 2007).

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     Cf. Frank Lechner, The Netherlands: Globalization and National Identity (London/ New York: Routledge, 2008); Oskar Verkaaik, Ritueel burgerschap. Een essay over nationalisme en secularisme in Nederland (Amsterdam: Aksant, 2009); Pieter Dronkers, “De tolerante natie en haar ‘multireligieuze drama’. Nieuwe burgerschapsvisies en de ruimte voor religieuze loyaliteit,” in: Peter van Dam, James Kennedy, Friso Wielenga (eds.), Achter de zuilen. Op zoek naar religie in naoorlogs Nederland (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2014). 155–178.

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  • 69

     See Paul Cliteur, The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism (Malden/ Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2012), and Hans den Boef, Nederland seculier! Tegen religieuze privileges in wetten, regels, pratijken, gewoonten en attitudes (Amsterdam:Van Gennep, 2003).

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  • 75

    Sipco J. Vellenga, “Religieuze orthodoxie als bedreiging. Verschuivingen in het publieke debat,” Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid 2/2 (2011), 7–22.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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