Circumcision ban ‘violates rights of Muslims, Jews’
ANKARA / BERLIN
EU Minister Bağış harshly criticizes a German court’s ruling to ban circumcisions. AA photoThe circumcision ban in Germany is a clear intrusion into the basic rights and freedoms of the country’s Muslims and Jews, EU Minister Egemen Bağış has said in a special article penned for daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The recent Cologne court’s decision to ban the practice “gravely contradicts the legally protected right to the free practice of religion,” Bağış said in the article, which was posted yesterday.
Meanwhile, the German postal service is set to issue a stamp reminding Germans that 2,000 years ago Jesus underwent circumcision as an 8-day-old baby.
In the article, Bağış said Turkey was watching “with astonishment that the undisturbed practice of religion in Germany is no longer guaranteed.” “This is about freedom of conscience and that can’t be curtailed by courts,” Bağış said, adding that the court’s objectivity had to be questioned.
The Cologne court ruled in June that the removal of the foreskin for religious reasons amounted to grievous bodily harm and was therefore illegal. After heavy criticism, German lawmakers passed a cross-party motion to protect religious circumcision.
Emphasizing that circumcision was an integral part of Islam and Judaism, Bağış said “describing circumcision as an injury is a sign of huge cultural and historical ignorance” while adding that rabbis were calling the ban the “most serious intrusion into Jewish life since the Holocaust.”
The EU minister also said he agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s opposition to the ban, but added that he wished the leader would take into account the desires of Germany’s 5 million Muslims.
Merkel has said Germany risks becoming a laughing stock if the law is allowed to stand.
Germany to issue circumcision stamp
In a related development, the German postal service is preparing to print a stamp reminding Germans that Jesus underwent circumcision two millennia ago. The Bible Society said the stamp’s design was finalized well before the heated debate over circumcision began but that it did not intend to delay the date of issue.
“We don’t want to add fuel to the fire,” said Stefan Wittig, a Lutheran pastor who works for the Bible Society.
The stamp, marking the 200th anniversary of the German Bible Society on Sept. 11, shows a page from the New Testament that includes a description of Jesus being circumcised. The 85-cent stamp bears a passage from the Gospel of Saint Luke that includes the words, “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise