BRUSSELS (JTA) — European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor unveiled a model bill designed to set “strict legal terms” on religious freedoms for the continent.
Kantor, who is also co-chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, or ECTR, presented the model bill on Oct. 15 at the European Parliament.
Designed to delineate the legal boundaries of tolerance in light of “anti-Semitism, racism and attempts to limit freedom of worship in Europe,” the document proposes to enshrine Jewish and Muslim religious slaughter practices, shechitah and halal, as well as ritual circumcision. It also recognized the state’s right to regulate the practices.
Citing “overriding” public safety reasons, the bill proposes to ban burkas and other face-covering headgear. Kantor said he hoped the parliaments of European Union member states adopt the principles laid down in the model bill in legislation, as “only by defining the boundaries of real tolerance can we ensure it.”
The model bill was co-authored by Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Polish president and co-chair of ECTR, a Brussels-based NGO comprised of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, several former heads of states and others recognized for urging tolerance.
Under the model bill, “migrants who refuse to learn the local language may face deportation due to their unwillingness to integrate,” said Yoram Dinstein, one of the documents’ co-authors and an Israeli expert in international law.
“Many support tolerance as an abstract idea but find it hard to specify how it should be applied,” Dinstein told JTA. “This document tries to translate aspirations into practice.”
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