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Turkish minister: Religious freedom no longer guaranteed in Germany

JTA

August 28, 2012 | 10:36 am

Turkey's minister for European affairs, Egemen Bagis in 2007. Photo courtesy Egemen Bagis

Turkey's minister for European affairs, Egemen Bagis in 2007. Photo courtesy Egemen Bagis

Turkey’s minister for European affairs, Egemen Bagis, has called circumcision bans in Germany “a danger for liberty.”

In an Op-Ed published Tuesday in the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Bagis wrote that recent court rulings in Germany against circumcision mean that “Turkey watches on with astonishment how freedom of ritual is no longer fully guaranteed in Germany.”

He also wrote that in addressing the circumcision issue,  German Chancellor Angela Merkel should have referred to it as a Muslim ritual as well as a Jewish one. Germany, Bagis wrote, should lift limitations on circumcision and “set an example in the religious and cultural domain.”

In a letter sent this week to European Jewish Association director Menachem Margolin, Merkel wrote that she was “happy Jews have made Germany their home” and promised to help preserve religious freedom in Germany.

In July, she said, “I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world where Jews cannot perform their rites.”

The German parliament passed a resolution in favor of circumcision. The government is expected to advance legislation that legalizes it in the coming months.

Earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed in Germany against a rabbi from Hof for conducting a circumcision. In May, a court in Cologne ruled that circumcision amounted to a criminal act. A hospital in Zurich and a few Austrian state-run hospitals subsequently imposed a moratorium on circumcisions, which they have since lifted.

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