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RIGHTS > Germany's circumcision ban irks Jews and Muslims

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Circumcision of male children is a practice in Muslim and Jewish faith. Hürriyet photo

Circumcision of male children is a practice in Muslim and Jewish faith. Hürriyet photo

Erdem Güneş Erdem Güneş erdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

Following a regional German court’s ruling that circumcision in children causes permanent harm to their physical integrity, Muslim and Jewish communities in Germany have criticized the court’s verdict as “discriminatory.”

The regional Köln (Cologne) High Court, ruled June 26 that the “fundamental right of a boy to bodily integrity outweighs the fundamental rights of the parents.”

Ali Dere, Turkey’s departmental manager for external relations of the Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in Germany, said this step was the beginning of a new wave of discrimination against Muslims in Germany.

“Instead of punishing the doctor who performed the surgery, the court’s ruling punishes communities. The German state is taking [away] the right of families to decide about their children’s religion. This is an intervention in the individual’s [ability to] build a Muslim identity,” Dere told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The court’s ruling said the religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised “if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised.”

The case was brought against a doctor in Köln who circumcised a Muslim family’s 4-year-old boy at his parents’ request three years ago. According to reports the boy bled heavily after the operation, leading his parents to take him to the hospital. The local prosecutor kicked off an investigation on the grounds of “causing bodily harm.”

However, the regional court found the doctor not guilty, saying he acted within the law, since the boy’s parents had given him permission to perform the circumcision.

“The body of a child is irreparably and permanently changed by circumcision. This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide his religious beliefs later on,” the ruling read.

German judges “ignorant”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s European Union Minister Egemen Bağış criticized the court, saying they were being “ignorant.”

“Comparing injury to circumcision, to say the least of it, is ignorance. This is a divine topic for us, which we will not argue in a courtroom,” Bağış said.

Germany’s top Jewish leader has also spoken out about the ruling. “This was a dramatic attack against the right to religious choice,” he said.

Dieter Grauman, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said “The decision does not outlaw circumcision [but] it is still outrageous and insensitive. Ritual circumcision by a medical doctor is an integral part of the Jewish faith that has been practiced around the world for millennium. This right is respected in every country of the world,” Hürriyet Germany bureau reported.

June/28/2012

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