The Belgian Jewish community has filed a lawsuit against legislation banning the production of kosher meat from 2019.

They argue that banning the sale of such meat, which requires animals to be killed without being stunned first, violates their right to freedom of religion.

The European Jewish Congress previously described the law as ‘the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation’.

Politicians in the Walloon region were the first to pass the law in May last year, followed by Flanders in July.

Flanders is home to half of Belgium’s Jewish population and contains most of the slaughterhouses that produce kosher meat.

Three organisations filed the suit Tuesday, including the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress.

The lawsuit argues that the legislation violates EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Belgian Constitution, all of which guarantee freedom of religion.

The European Court of Human Rights has previously described kosher slaughter as ‘an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion’, the suit notes.

Brooke Goldstein, the Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, which is supporting the lawsuit said: ‘Belgian Jews cannot remain silent while their religious freedoms are trampled and nor should anyone else.

‘Laws preventing Belgian citizens from peacefully practicing their faith will do nothing to heal the divisions in Belgian society and are an embarrassment.’

Yohan Benizri, the President of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, added: ‘Legislators have given Belgian Jews a worrisome political signal, by trumping their right to practice their faith, in violation of the crucial principle of separation of Church and State.

‘That’s very sad, but it is also unlawful. It is a violation of European legal norms, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and we are hopeful it will be overturned as such.

‘If this legislation ever comes into force it would be a dark day for freedom in Belgium.’