Jewish Journal

Merkel: German Jews and Muslims can still circumcise sons

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 13, 2012 | 6:42 pm

Remember the circumcision wars in California last summer that ceased, at least temporarily, when a California state court said that the circumcision-ban ballot measure in San Francisco would violate California law?

Well, last month in Germany circumcision came a lot closer to being proscribed after a court in Cologne ruled that it was illegal. The decision was a shocker—and Jewish and Muslim communities quickly mobilized.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded today. Her spokesman promised that Jews and Muslims would be free to circumcise their boys, per their religious tradition. Reuters reports:

“For everyone in the government it is absolutely clear that we want to have Jewish and Muslim religious life in Germany,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. “Circumcision carried out in a responsible manner must be possible in this country without punishment.”


Ruling in the case of a Muslim boy taken to a doctor with bleeding after circumcision, the Cologne court said the practice inflicts bodily harm and should not be carried out on young boys, but could be practiced on older males who give consent.

This is not acceptable under Jewish religious practice which requires boys to be circumcised from eight days old, nor for many Muslims, for whom the age of circumcision varies according to family, country and branch of Islam.

“It is well know that in the Jewish religion early circumcision carries great meaning, so it is a matter of urgency that this right be restored,” said Seibert, adding that Merkel’s own office would be involved in efforts to resolve the problem.

“We know a quick decision is needed and that this cannot be put off. Freedom of religious practice is a very important legal right for us,” he said.

Read the rest here.

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