Jewish communities to coordinate debate on circumcision
VIENNA - Agence France-Presse
President of the Jewish community Oskar Deutsch, left, and President of the Islamic community Fuat Sanac attend a news conference on circumcisions in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 27, 2012. AP Photo
Austria's Jewish community (IKG) said Monday it was working jointly with its German and Swiss counterparts to keep religious circumcision legal, after repeated calls for an end to the practice. The IKG was organising an international coordinating group with the Jewish communities in neighbouring Germany and Switzerland, IKG president Oskar Deutsch told the Austria Press Agency on Monday.
This follows a heated debate that began last month when a court in the western German city of Cologne ruled that circumcision -- observed by both Muslims and Jews on religious grounds -- was tantamount to grievous bodily harm.
A couple of hospitals in Switzerland followed suit, saying they would at least temporarily suspend such operations.
The governor of Austria's westernmost Vorarlberg province, Markus Wallner, meanwhile issued a provisional recommendation to hospitals not to perform circumcisions, even on religious grounds.
This prompted an unprecedented joint call by Austrian Jews, Muslims and Christians on Friday for the government to "issue a clear commitment to religious freedom and to the legality of male circumcision." In Germany too, MPs adopted a cross-party motion calling on the government to protect religious circumcision.
Talking to APA, Deutsch said Monday he was convinced that "a law to protect religious circumcision for men will be passed in Germany." The status quo in Austria, which already allows the practice, will also be maintained, he said confidently.