Owner of Kosher poultry factory in Antwerp hopes to relocate to Hungary

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Following the European Court of Justice’s decision to uphold a Belgian ban on kosher slaughter, Wim van den Brande, owner of the Kosher Poultry Factory in Antwerp, was forced to fire his ten employees and close down the business. Now he plans to relocate to Hungary, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports . The factory — one of Europe’s largest kosher slaughterhouses — was founded by van den Brande’s grandfather back in 1966, and it grew together with the rising Jewish population of the region and by the end of 2020 it was processing 80,000 chicken a month, JTA reports. Van den Brande — who, ironically, is not even Jewish — told JTA the Belgian ban and the subsequent decision of the ECJ was “an attack on traditions and an entire industry”.

As Remix News reported earlier, following the ECJ’s ruling, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán joined the protests against the decision, prompted by a letter from Isaac Herzog, president of the Jewish Agency, in Jerusalem. “I believe this decision is not just an attack on religious freedom, but an attack on our Judeo-Christian heritage and Jewish communities in Europe. Consequently, my government quickly condemned this harmful decision, and we will do our utmost to raise our voice against it in all possible international forums,” Orbán wrote in a letter to Herzog. In daily Magyar Hírlap, Hungarian political commentator Péter G. Fehér wrote that “the Belgian liberal elite, which supports migration for the sake of political gain and popularity, hid behind the guise of animal protection and wanted to prove that it was adapting a different way of treating the country’s customs. With this, however, the liberals got into a camp with the radical right against immigration, and a similar political catastrophe was created as done by the current Hungarian opposition.” Nechemiah Schuldiner, the leader of the Shomre Hadas Orthodox Jewish community in Antwerp, told JTA that while the immediate consequences of the ban were less important, the message the decision sent was truly worrying. “On the ground, it makes little difference. We still have meat,” Schuldiner said “The problem is the message it sends. It tells Jews: ‘We don’t want you here’.”

Title image: A Jewish boy walks past Belgian soldiers as they patrol during religious services in Antwerp, Belgium January 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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