France - Council Of Europe Cancels Anti-circumcision And Anti- Shechita Measure After Joint Jewish-Muslim Effort

Published on: October 1st, 2015 at 08:43 AM
By: Jerusalem Post 

FILEFrance - Two years of efforts by the Israeli Knesset to combat a resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recommending that countries ban ritual circumcision bore fruit Thursday, when it was reversed via a new resolution on religious freedoms.

The new resolution, which passed with 73 in favor and six opposed, recommends that PACE member states “seek reasonable accommodations with a view to guaranteeing equality that is effective, and not merely formal, in the right to freedom of religion.” It gives general guidelines to promote coexistence and fight hate speech, allowing religious communities to practice their faith, manage welfare institutions and express their opinions.  The resolution refers specifically to Islamophobia, but not to anti-Semitism.

The council recommended that states require circumcisions to be performed by people trained to do so, in appropriate medical and health conditions, and that parents be informed of any medical risk to their child.

The resolution also addresses ritual slaughter, stating that PACE is not convinced it should be banned and recommending following the French or German model of protecting animals from unnecessary suffering while respecting religious freedom.

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz), who represented the Knesset at the vote, called the decision a victory for common sense.

“The argument about whether to circumcise is legitimate, but opponents of the ancient ritual should fight through education and public relations and not try to force their opinions through legislation,” Frej said.

In October 2013, PACE’s Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development Committee approved a resolution by German rapporteur Marlene Rupperecht stating that ritual circumcision, in addition to piercings, tattoos, plastic surgery, medical intervention in cases of possibly transgender children and female genital mutilation, violates children’s right to protect their physical integrity. It also recommended that laws be passed “to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.” Jews perform ritual circumcision on boys when they are eight days old, and Muslims do so to 13-year-old boys.

PACE resolutions are non-binding, but taken seriously by member states.

Since the resolution passed, the Knesset, under Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s leadership and the guidance of Knesset Diplomatic Advisor Oded Ben-Hur, sent delegations of MKs, Jewish and Muslim, to PACE and to countries from Azerbaijan in the east to Paris in the west, to enlist their European colleagues from other countries in the battle against the decision and other initiatives to ban ritual circumcision.

MKs advocated for ritual circumcision to be dealt with as a matter of religious freedom, as opposed to children’s rights, moving it to PACE’s Culture, Science Education and Media Committee, which discusses religious issues, among others.

Edelstein said on Thursday that he is glad the Knesset’s efforts were successful.

“From the first, it was clear that PACE’s recommendation was outrageous, unreasonable and clearly harms many people’s freedom of religion,” he stated. “I hope that we will not have to fight for basic rights like brit mila in the future.”‎


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