The court’s ruling could spark a dispute with the EU, which is due to introduce rules defending the practice of ritual slaughter on the grounds of religious freedom.
The ban will come into force at the end of the year, and comes after the court found that a 2004 amendment, brought in to bring Polish law closer that of the EU, allowing the cutting of an animal’s throat without it first being stunned was in contravention of both a 1997 Polish animal welfare law and the constitution.
Poland has tiny Jewish and Muslim communities, and has only 18 abattoirs registered to carry out religious slaughter. While much of their produce is exported animal-welfare campaigners claimed that some meat deemed unclean by religious laws enters the wider food chain and consumed by people unaware they are eating meat from religious slaughter.
But whether the ban will remain is moot. On January 1, EU regulations permitting religious slaughter come into effect, and Stanislaw Kalemba, Poland’s agriculture minister, said that EU law took precedence over Polish law.
Despite the possibility of it being rescinded, the ban was met with dismay by Polish Muslims but they also pledged to respect it.
“We are religious and are attached to tradition,” said Bronislaw Talkowski, spokesman for Poland’s Muslim Religious Association. “But we also respect Polish law, and it will be the same this time.”