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Rev Sci Tech. 2014 Apr;33(1):85-9.

Drivers for animal welfare policies in the Middle East.


Religion, ethics and culture are an important group of drivers for animal welfare policies in the Middle East. In many countries of the region the understanding of animal welfare is expressed more in terms of religious precepts and humane ethics than via regulations and legislation. In fact, regulatory and legislated animal welfare standards are still not well implemented and many animal welfare issues require attention. The Qur'an provides considerable support for conscientiously attending to animal welfare. For example, the Islamic rules on the process of slaughter were intended to provide a quick, humane and relatively painless death. Current practices that are not in accordance with these religious teachings may cause great suffering to animals. Although these rules have been in place for 1,400 years or more, now, in the 21st Century, they are found to closely correspond to the related standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE plays an important role in improving animal welfare by developing global animal welfare standards. These should assist countries in two important ways: first, by helping them to establish new, or to refine existing, animal welfare legislation, and second, at the OIE regional level, by facilitating interactions between Member Countries as they develop and refine a strategic plan for the advancement of animal welfare. As the OIE standards are compatible with the requirements of Islamic law, issuing animal welfare legislation referring to those standards and implementing them at a national level is highly recommended. A dialogue between the OIE and the Veterinary Services and religious leaders in the region should therefore start with the objective of improving animal welfare.

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