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Berlin - Circumcision Declared Legal In First Of 16 German States

Published on: September 5, 2012 09:16 AM
Last updated on: September 5, 2012 03:34 PM
By: AP
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FILE - Members of the German parliament vote on a law for the religious circumcision of underage boys during a special session of the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 19 July 2012.  EPABerlin -  Infant male circumcision for religious reasons is legal in Berlin, a top state official said Wednesday, making the capital the first of Germany’s 16 states to specify that the ritual followed by Jews and Muslims shouldn’t be considered a crime.

State Justice minister Thomas Heilmann’s announcement came after Berlin’s Jewish Hospital asked for clarification following a June ruling by a regional court in Cologne.

That ruling said circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure. The court decision didn’t amount to a ban on the procedure and wasn’t binding for other courts, but it raised fears among Jews and Muslims of possible prosecutions.

The federal government is drafting new legislation clarifying the issue, but Heilmann says he felt it necessary to allay fears in this “difficult transitional period.”

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The Cologne court decision loomed large Wednesday at a gathering of international rabbis and imams in Paris aimed at overcoming enmity, and Jewish and Muslim leaders said the debate about ritual circumcision has brought their communities closer together.

R. Hamza Woerdemann of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said Muslim leaders in Cologne quickly conferred with German Jewish groups after the ruling.

“It took only a few hours and we made a telephone conference with the Central Council of Jews in Germany,” he said. “Our communities, now, they can understand why it’s important to work together.”

At the Paris gathering, some rabbis and imams said they feel religion is under attack in Europe. They noted criticism in the Netherlands of the ritual slaughter of animals that is part of both Jewish and Muslim traditions, a French ban on face-covering veils, and Switzerland’s ban on the construction of new minarets.

“It’s clear that the Jewish and Muslim communities are at one on this issue. We find the reaction on the part of these governments unconscionable,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. He also expressed concern about “the continued attacks that we find on Jews and Muslims here in Europe.”



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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 05, 2012 at 10:19 AM mikeb Says:

They may have declared 'circumcision' legal, but they have effectively banned Jewish brisos completely. This is far worse than the situation beforehand, where the position was at best unclear.

2

 Sep 05, 2012 at 12:49 PM STRAIGHT_FACTS Says:

Let's not declare victory prematurely; a mohel should be a Yirei Shomayim and not a doctor. A Sandik should be a Godol and a Sandek meyumod should be a Yirei Shomayim as well. However it is a step in the right direction.

3

 Sep 05, 2012 at 12:47 PM Eli Says:

What are you talking about, #1? "They" did not ban brisos. One single court in Cologne ruled in a case brought by a Muslim boy's parents against a non-Jewish doctor. Meanwhile, the entire German political leadership spoke as one in condemning that court's decision and have vowed to find ways to render the ruling ineffective. This vote in Berlin was the first of what will be many such actions. And prosecutors have already said they won't press charges against a mohel who was charged after the Cologne ruling. So, please, #1, stop making frum Jews look so dumb with such ill-informed comments.

4

 Sep 05, 2012 at 07:45 PM Mr Kane Bakodesh Says:

#1
Are you a moron or what...it is now legal in Berlin

5

 Sep 05, 2012 at 07:50 PM mikeb Says:

Reply to #3  
Eli Says:

What are you talking about, #1? "They" did not ban brisos. One single court in Cologne ruled in a case brought by a Muslim boy's parents against a non-Jewish doctor. Meanwhile, the entire German political leadership spoke as one in condemning that court's decision and have vowed to find ways to render the ruling ineffective. This vote in Berlin was the first of what will be many such actions. And prosecutors have already said they won't press charges against a mohel who was charged after the Cologne ruling. So, please, #1, stop making frum Jews look so dumb with such ill-informed comments.

They did ban brisos, in effect! They will only be permitted to be performed by a doctor, and with an appropriate anasthetic. This is NOT a traditional bris perormed by a mohel!

6

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