- 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
Ebola could hit 15 countries across Africa: Study of how disease has spread in past finds 70million people may be at risk of infection
The Ebola outbreak could hit 15 countries across Africa - putting the lives of 70 million people at risk, a groundbreaking study has found. In a ...
Britain is to forge closer economic ties with China after Chancellor George Osborne announced £2.4billion in new commercial deals with the People’s Republic. As the annual ...
Donations have poured in for Manchester Dogs’ Home after a fire ripped through the premises, killing more than 53 dogs last night. A JustGiving page set ...
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- 'Don't Have Any Parties': Last Words of Mother Days Before Her Son Threw a Massive Party and Drunken Facebook Crashers Trashed Her £1m House
- Woman Driver's Fury After Commons Speaker 'Clipped Her Car as He Parked Outside a London restaurant'
- Swarms of Massive Insects Kill More Than 40 and Injure 1,600 in China
Disgusting 'landfill dump' INSIDE a house: Squalid rat-infested home had 40 years' worth of filth piled to the ceilings - and took a team of six a month to clear
Authorities were alerted to the state of the property in Cleethorpes after a neighbour noticed rats entering her home Once inside the rat and maggot-infested house, ...
Rockabye-kitty! Kyo the cat acts just like a baby as it chills out in a bouncer and paws hanging mobiles before settling in for a nap
Kyo the orange tabby is entranced by the movement and music of the chair Washes himself thoroughly then yawns extravagantly as he lolls about Owner Jeremy Trader ...
Whoops! Labour's shadow pensions minister Rachel Reeves does not know how much the state pension is worth
Senior frontbencher put on the spot about her brief during LBC interview She claimed that the state pension is worth less than £100-a-week But the true value ...
Tesco crisis is 'national interest issue that affects whole of British business community' say critics as supermarket brings in new finance director two months early
Shadow business secretary Chuka Ununna is 'deeply troubled' by scandal He says firm must reveal if the incident was isolated or part of a pattern Tesco's new ...
Pictured, shocking injuries of guests at 60th birthday party after gatecrashing sex pest tried to gouge woman's eyes out
Keith Holiday, 45, turned up uninvited to a 60th birthday party in Hull Was asked to leave the party after bothering several of the female guests Then ...
Labour in crisis in Scotland: Leadership in-fighting erupts with Jim Murphy in poll position to replace Johann Lamont
Rumours swirl at party conference that Scottish leader Lamont will quit Comes just days after the historic referendum rejecting independence Jim Murphy, who toured 100 towns during ...
Two people have died after being hit by a train in ‘suspicious circumstances’, police said today. The incident happened this morning in Slough, Berkshire, which is ...
Justine Miliband defends husband Ed from 'nasty' attacks which deter 'principled' people from politics
Ed Miliband's wife Justine has come out fighting for the Labour leader, defending him against 'nasty' and 'brutal' attacks in the run-up to the general ...
US sells cruise missiles to Poland as deterrent to regional threats' amid rising tension with Russia
Poland will purchase 40 AGM-158A missles at a cost of $500 million The missiles have a range of 250 miles and can be fired from F-16 ...
Shock batons, restraint chairs and neck cuffs: China accused of making and selling the instruments of torture by human rights group
Amnesty International says number of Chinese companies making and selling of potentially dangerous equipment has grown from 28 to 130 in a decade While most are ...