Austrian ambassador downplays fears of kosher-halal meat register

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The Austrian ambassador to Israel has downplayed reports of a plan by an Austrian state to require Jews and Muslims to register before they can buy kosher and halal meat.

Martin Weiss said politicians in Lower Austria would work with religious communities to allay their fears.

The state's right-wing environment minister said he wanted to curb animal slaughter without the use of stunning.

Gottfried Waldhäusl said it was needed "from an animal welfare point of view".

However, officials have ruled out requiring Jews to register to buy kosher meat.

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The proposal caused a backlash among Jewish groups. Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community in Vienna, said the plan would have meant compiling lists of Jews, reminiscent of racist Nazi laws that were introduced in Austria after it merged with Germany in 1938.

The American Jewish Committee's Berlin office also reacted angrily, questioning if Jews would be made to wear the Star of David again, as they were by the Nazis.

"This is an attack on Jewish and Muslim life! #Anti-Semitism," a spokesman tweeted.

Halal and kosher methods of slaughtering animals for food require that they be conscious when their throats are cut. Critics say slaughtering animals without stunning them first is cruel.

Some right-wing parties in Europe have campaigned to have halal and kosher slaughter banned.

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