The slaughter of animals by halal or kosher methods could be banned in Holland.
The Muslim and Jewish practices inflict unacceptable suffering on animals, campaigners say.
A vote will take place later this month. An unlikely alliance of an animal rights party and the Right-wing Freedom Party is heading support for the ban.
The Party of the Animals, the first such party to be elected to a parliament, says humane treatment of animals trumps traditions of tolerance.
However, the move has angered Jewish and Muslim groups, which insist the initiative is an affront to freedom of religion.
As in most western countries, Dutch law dictates that butchers must stun livestock – render it unconscious – before slaughter, to minimise pain and fear.
But an exception is made for meat prepared under ancient Jewish and Muslim dietary laws.
These demand that animals be slaughtered while still awake, by swiftly cutting the main neck arteries with razor-sharp knives.
Most Dutch favour a ban. The procedures are already banned in New Zealand, Scandinavian and Baltic countries and Switzerland.
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.
But Jewish and Muslim groups have called the bill an affront to freedom of religion.
Ruben Vis, a spokesman for the CJO, an umbrella group of Jewish organisations, said: ‘I can speak for the Dutch Jewish community and I think for the wider Jewish world, that this law raises grave concerns about infringements on religious freedoms.’
Abdulfatteh Ali-Salah, director of Halal Correct, said Muslims felt Dutch society was more interested in animal welfare than fair treatment of its citizens.
‘If the law goes through now there’s nothing else to do but protest,’ he said.
Most Dutch are believed to favour a ban.
If the bill is passed, the Netherlands will join New Zealand, Scandinavian countries and Switzerland which have had bans for decades.
The Netherlands has a proud history of tolerance and was one of the first countries in Europe to allow Jews to live openly with their religion in the 17th century.
The country has around one million Muslims out of a total population of around 16 million. There are estimated to be around 50,000 Jews after 70 per cent of their community died in Nazi concentration camps in World War Two.
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