Judges in Germany's federal administrative tribunal on Thursday turned down demands made by animal rights groups to outlaw halal butchery, the Islamic practice of killing animals while they are conscious.
Halal butchery involves praising God as the animal is slaughtered
Rustem Altinkupe, a Turkish butcher, has been battling for nine years with a local authority near Frankfurt to obtain an exemption from German animal-slaughtering rules for religious reasons.
Constitutional judges in Germany's highest court had ruled in 2002 that halal killing was protected under religious freedom.
But pro-animal groups consider halal killing cruel and contended that it had been outlawed by a constitutional amendment the same year that obliges Germany to protect animals. The federal tribunal in the eastern city of Leipzig disagreed Thursday.
Exceptions made for religious slaughter
The judges directed the local authority to issue a permit to Altinkupe for his shop in the town of Asslar, but said strict conditions should be attached. Butchers in other German places already have permits.
According to Germany's law covering animal cruelty, warm-blooded animals must be anaesthetized, usually with an electric shock, before slaughter, but allows exemptions under religious rules such as halal killing or Judaism's kosher dietary rules.
Halal rules require an Islamic prayer to be recited as the animal's blood is let.
Altinkupe, 39, who has been a butcher for the past 18 years, possessed an exemption until 1995 when the authority blocked it. Since then, he has operated with a provisional exemption, which was issued until the legal battle was decided.