BURAK BEKDİL > Not a matter of foreskin!

Print Page Send to friend »
The judge probably did not know that his ruling in June to ban ritual circumcision in the Cologne region of Germany would succeed in doing what world leaders have been futilely trying to do for decades: In Berlin, it brought together a rare but willing union of hundreds of Muslims and Jews, marching for a common cause. In that joint rally, both Muslims and Jews protested against the ban and demanded that freedom of religion be respected.

Of course, freedom of religion should be respected. And probably the lawmakers of the federal German state will draft a bill nullifying the local court ruling that has gone beyond the local, as doctors across Germany have refused to carry out operations in fear of legal consequences. I will leave the criticism of Jewish hypocrisies to Jewish colleagues, but what four million Muslims of Germany cry for is not freedom of religion. It is simply freedom of Islam – not of other religions, including atheism. Don’t be mistaken, the Berlin march that brought together Muslims and Jews was a tactical alliance under the shadow of strategic hostility, necessitated by the perception of a common, albeit temporary, threat.

Muslims in non-Muslim lands demand respect and full rights to practice their faith. Right? Right. No doubt, they deserve these rights as long as these rights do not breach the host country’s laws. It is also a fact that these Muslims chose to live in these non-Muslim lands, knowing they are non-Muslim lands and their laws may not always respect a Muslim slaughtering a sheep in a public park for his beliefs. All the same, I personally do not think circumcision breaches any country’s laws. But the problem about the Muslim outcry for freedom of religion is something else.

I will be direct. Can a Catholic demand to sprinkle the head of his newborn with holy water in Riyadh? Can a non-Muslim woman in Tehran defend her right to walk in public without a headscarf “because this is her faith?” How will the Pakistani authorities respond if a Christian resident insisted that he wants his family members to celebrate the holy communion by eating bread and wine to remember Jesus Christ’s sacrifices?

What about the religious rights of the not-so-Muslim Turks who choose cremation after death but are immediately denied? How will the authorities in Konya respond if Hindus wanted to worship gods (not one God) at a family shrine, which typically includes lighting a lamp and offering food before the images while prayers are recited? Arrest them for practicing satanism? Or, to cite the better legal term for the breach, for “disrespectful behavior against a whole or a part of the society”?

Muslims in Germany walk hand in hand with Jews for the right to have their babies circumcised. But will they take to the streets for the right of other Jewish practices, elsewhere? Will they protest if a Jew’s right not to work on the Sabbath is found illegal by court in Turkey, Egypt, or Algeria?

Forget all those hypothetical questions. Does or does not a Turkish court ask famous pianist Fazıl Say to stand trial because his atheist tweets “may have insulted the religious values of whole or a part of the nation?” Should the Germans hide behind the same shrewd-looking-but-ridiculous pretext? Sorry, but a whole or part of our nation gets offended when you have your babies circumcised.

Watch out gentlemen, when you speak of freedom of religion and rights in Christian countries, someone may remind you that - forget rights! - non-Muslims are not even allowed to set foot in the holy lands of Mecca.

Muslims think it is smart to demand rights in lands in which they are a minority because “that is democracy,” and to rigidly deny the same rights to non-Muslims in Muslim lands because “these are against the culture, religion and traditions of our majority.” Muslims should stop playing the multiculturalist, democracy-thirsty underdogs in non-Muslim lands while defending strict majoritarianism in lands where they are the majority.

I shall always keep on asking the disturbing question: Can a religion at odds with its less devout adherents be at peace with other religions, including agnosticism and atheism?


PRINTER FRIENDLY Send to friend »


Notice on comments

Angel Harold

10/18/2012 1:43:02 PM

I could not agree more. Should have read this much earlier

Safiyah Noor Page

10/6/2012 8:41:24 PM

This entire piece is disingenuous. To confuse the notion of whose umbrella morality a person is living under with a false outrage over hypocrisy of the Muslim ruler as a Muslim is ridiculous. When Muslims live in non Muslims societies they must respect their laws and either abide them or go to Dar al Islam; however, we are a people who have to point out when these non Muslims are selectively following THEIR LAWS. Their principles extol the virtue of freedom to faith so let them have integrity.

illawarrior hill

9/28/2012 5:14:50 AM

Well written. It is so typical that such a huge fuss is made over such a minor issue, whilst the major issues go without any comment. Does anyone seriously think that Jehovah or Allah cares if a male has a foreskin? Surely, if a foreskin was not a desirable component, god would have created man without it to begin with!

Harry Foundalis

9/13/2012 10:08:50 PM

@Roxy, you compared circumcision to baptism: depends on the kind of baptism. E.g., Greek Orthodox baptism must be quite bad, because babies are totally immersed in hot water mixed with oil, which makes them cry a lot. Yet in circumcision babies often *faint* from the sharp pain. If you lift your religious blinders you’ll see circumcision of babies for what is is: relic of a barbarian past, when the most complex thought of some tribal ancestors was “ugg!”

Harry Foundalis

9/13/2012 10:03:44 PM

@cloud chaser, you really stand up to your nickname. You misunderstood what I wrote. “jd pomerantz” wrote that by his/her personal observation he/she is “unaware of any psychological carnage” among Americans due to circumcision. I wrote that you can’t know that. Introspection cannot tell you if behavior X has its roots in experience Y. The example I brought up doesn’t imply a connection. It’s there to make you think and conclude that you can’t know if circumcision causes psychological trauma.

cloud chaser

9/13/2012 5:19:32 PM

small minorities, the act had triggered the gun incident. Equally valid argument would be - for a similar percentage the circumcision had prevented the gun incident, which was inborn. Unless actual numbers are involved, your guess (and it is just that - a guess, albeit an educated one) is as good as anyone else's.

cloud chaser

9/13/2012 5:16:20 PM

Hello Harry, you can't have it both ways. If psychology is a science, the same actions would result in the same result. cause and effect. Statistics is a great tool - if a good percentage of male Americans were circumcised, and yet the same percentage doesn't pick up a gun and start shooting, then there is no statistical connection between the two events, no matter how subtle you might claim such a connection to be. statistics are not absolutes, of course. It can be argued that for a very small

Harry Foundalis

9/13/2012 11:18:02 AM

@jd pomerantz, you said you’re “unaware of any psychological carnage” among American circumcised boys. If you had studied psychology or cognitive science (I have, that’s my area) you’d learn that introspection is the worst counselor in drawing conclusions in psychology. I know of many an American man who grabbed a gun & killed his colleagues or fellow students. I’m not blaming circumcision for that; just saying that psychological effects can be too subtle and indirect for your wisdom to notice.

jd pomerantz

9/13/2012 4:50:05 AM

Wll said, Roxie - as if there were such a thing as neutrality. Whether the home is religious or irreligious, it's still indoctrination in a particular worldview. ED, you're comparing apples with oranges; ie both baptism & whatever covenant one believes circumcision to represent can be repudiated; for years virtually all American boys were circumcised & I'm unaware of any psychological carnage.

Roxy R

9/13/2012 1:21:45 AM

@Ed Diaz: If you fail to understand what I mean then I have nothing to say lol. To me is the same, different processes (physical or not) with the same result, indoctrination of your childs from an early age. Everybody does that, let's not say it's only muslim and jews ;) Even atheist... I can't understand some christians lol, so your religion is ok and the others no? To me there's no exception, either you are a believer and respect all religions or you are atheist and believe in none.
< >


AcerPro S.I.P.A HTML & CSS Agency