- Circumcision has been practised for 4,000 years by the Jewish community and cannot be changed, says rabbi
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 04:13 EST, 13 July 2012 | UPDATED: 04:13 EST, 13 July 2012
A German court's ban on circumcising baby boys has provoked a rare show of unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians who see it as a threat to religious freedom.
Doctors have also warned it could increase health risks by forcing the practice underground.
President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt (right), has furiously condemned the decision by a German court to ban circumcision
European rabbis meeting in Berlin yesterday promised to defy the ruling by a court in the city of Cologne last month. They plan further talks with Muslim and Christian leaders in Stuttgart next week to see how they can fight the ban together.
'We urge the Jewish community in Germany and circumcisers to continue to perform circumcisions and not to wait for a change in the law,' said the chief rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt said outlawing circumcision was the 'worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.' He demanded that Angela Merkel's government intervened to guarantee their religious rights.
He added that the the ban is a new example of creeping prejudice in European law against non-Christians, after a Swiss ban on minarets, French and Belgian bans on Islamic veils in public, and an attempted Dutch ban on halal meat.
The Cologne court took action after police were alerted by a doctor who treated a Muslim boy for bleeding after he underwent circumcision. It emphasised it did not ban circumcision, but wanted families to wait until their sons were older. So far the ban applies only to the area of the Cologne court's jurisdiction.
In a country that is sensitive to charges of intolerance and discrimination, especially against Jews because of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis during World War Two, many politicians including the foreign minister have criticised the ruling.
Germany is home to about 120,000 Jews and 4 million Muslims. Many of the latter are originally from Turkey, which also condemned last month's court ruling.
The rabbis have lobbied members of the German and European parliaments to push for legislation that would stop the ban from being copied by other parts of Germany and Europe. This could be done via a law to exempt religious minorities, similar to that which permits the religious preparation of kosher and halal meat.
Jewish and Muslim religious leaders met European Parliament officials in Brussels this week to complain about what they called 'an affront to our basic religious and human rights'.
The father of a baby boy reads a prayer before giving the Mohel the blade for a circumcision
Germany's opposition Greens promised to help seek legislation that would entrench religious freedoms for Jews and Muslims.
'After the summer break we want to discuss with experts and relevant groups whether there is a way to tackle this problem in a legal way and to guarantee the legal rights of Jews and Muslims,' said senior Green lawmaker Renate Kuenast.
Jews usually circumcise male infants eight days after birth, while the time for Muslim circumcision varies according to family, religion and country.
'Circumcision represents the basis for belonging to the Jewish community. It has been practised for 4,000 years and cannot be changed,' Goldschmidt said.
The 40 rabbis attending the Berlin conference decided to gather Jewish circumcisers in Germany into one association to further guarantee safety standards in the operation.
'Jewish families having babies now don't know how to behave because they are afraid. Circumcisers continuously call us to ask whether they can perform circumcisions or not. Things cannot continue like this,' said German rabbi Avichai Apel.
The head of the German Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, said the ban meant there was 'an increased risk of this task being performed by lay people which, because of poor hygiene conditions, could lead to serious complications'.
But Montgomery said he sadly had to advise his colleagues to refrain from performing the operation until the legal situation had been clarified, 'otherwise they could face prosecution'.
The World Health Organisation cites research showing that male circumcision can reduce the risk of AIDS, and 44 members of parliament in Zimbabwe underwent circumcision in June to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Germany's ambassador to Israel has assured lawmakers there that Berlin will try to resolve the problem quickly, while the justice minister has advised the Jewish and Muslim communities to seek redress via Germany's Constitutional Court.
'I see that within a democracy there are different bodies taking part in the lawmaking process but from our point of view, the deadline is not tomorrow but yesterday,' responded Rabbi Goldschmidt.
He warned that many of Germany's Jewish community, which has grown from just 3,000 in 1945 following the Holocaust, could end up emigrating if Germany cannot ensure full religious freedom.
Headlines Newsview all
ECHR had said whole-life tariffs with no right of review were unlawful But senior British judges defied this last week, opening decision to judge Michael Adebolajo, 29, ...
French police are clamping down on alcohol-fuelled skiing Collisions involving excessive drinking have resulted in injuries and death Drunken winter sports enthusiasts also face fines of £14,000 British ...
Banking giants to ‘proactively’ warn cash-strapped homeowners that their monthly mortgage bill is set to rise
Came as Bank of England said there would be an interest rise next spring Report by Barclays say mortgages could rise by £250 a year by ...
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- White Dee, Benefits Street's most infamous and shameless resident
- DJ Chris Moyles claimed to be a second-hand CAR DEALER to save £1 million in celebrity tax avoidance scheme
- Kym Marsh fling with personal trainer, Matt Baker
Police charge parents of toddler 'who died of organ failure after being given METHADONE from her baby mug'
Sophie Jones, two, suspected of dying of organ failure on TuesdayHeroin substitute 'added to a drink in her baby mug at home in Blackpool'Police arrested ...
Russian troops storm military post in Crimea as U.S. sends warship to the Black Sea after talks between Obama and Putin break down
No shots were fired in the attack on the base but move is the first time Russians have used force after seizing CrimeaPentagon insists 'routine' ...
Former maths teacher divorcing Britain's wealthiest woman entrepreneur worth £700 MILLION because he doesn't like being rich an prefers to eat in Wetherspoons
Tony Hawken, 57, is divorcing millionairess wife Xiu Li, 51, after 21 yearsCouple met on a blind date while he was a teacher and she ...
The latest drive-thru opened in Milton Keynes on FridayIn 2011, the coffee giant began rolling out 200 drive-thrus across the UKThe new outlets will introduce ...
Maria Miller and Chris Grayling backing plans to water down lawMP Andrew Bridgen says non-payment should be treated like parking ticketAround 180,000 people ended up ...
Pictured: Killer who posted RIP message on victim's Facebook four days after she and her gang punched, kicked, stabbed and strangled vulnerable man to death
Georgina Smith 22, posted message on Scott Blackwood's FacebookShe pretended to be in mourning, calling him her 'best mate'In fact she and two others tortured ...
David Cameron posted picture of him on the telephone on WednesdayPicture has gone viral - with countless people mocking the image onlineBy Sam Greenhill PUBLISHED: ...
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.21amVietnamese Navy reports picking up emergency signal from plane 153 miles out to sea Flight ...
Red sky rising: Dramatic sunrise as spring brings highs of 18C in London and South West this weekend. . . but there's still a touch of frost up north
Areas in southern England set for warmest temperatures this year - with 18C predicted for LondonNorth Devon, Somerset can join the capital in expecting several ...
Pictured: Desperate Indonesian women who scavenge through piles of rotting rubbish earning just £1.20 a day to feed their families
By Emma Glanfield PUBLISHED: 11:06 GMT, 8 March 2014 ...