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The former Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Danish Ambassador in London, Claus Grube, expressing concern over Denmark’s ban last month on the production of halal and kosher meat.
Lord Williams of Oystermouth is understood to have emphasised that the expression of religious freedom is an internationally recognised human right, over which animal welfare concerns should not be allowed to prevail.
In his private letter he is believed to have expressed concern that the new law could be associated with anti-Semitic or anti-Islam attitudes in Europe.
Lord Williams, who is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, is known to be in favour of the humane treatment of animals being enshrined in law. But it is understood that he pointed out to the Danish ambassador that the right of freedom of religion and religious expression is already written into European law.
The Danish law banning halal and kosher meat was passed on 18 February, after the country's Minister for Food, Dan Jorgensen, told Denmark's TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.
A campaign group, Danish Halal, has collected thousands of signatures protesting over the law.
The prohibition on ritual slaughter practised by Jews and Muslims means that halal and kosher meat will have to be imported to Denmark.