Representatives of the Jewish and Muslim religious communities called the ruling of a judge at a Cologne court banning religious circumcision insensitive and discriminatory, and an attack on centuries of religious tradition.
But Holm Putzke, a professor of penology – the study of the punishment of crime – from the University of Passau, told DPA that the ruling set a legal precedent and a warning.
He noted that while politicians are afraid to deal with the issue, “the court did not allow itself to be scared off by charges of anti-Semitism or religious intolerance.”
Head of the Religious Community of Islam in Germany Ali Demir said he found the ruling ” adversarial to the cause of integration and discriminatory against all the parties concerned.”
Demir also predicted that a ban on circumcisions in Germany would lead to the development of “circumcision tourism in neighboring countries in Europe.”
President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews Dieter Graumann aid it was “an egregious and insensitive measure, an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities’ right of determination.”
According to the Mail and Guardian, the Cologne court weighed three articles from the basic law: the rights of parents, freedom of religious practice and the right of the child to physical integrity. It concluded that a circumcision, “even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent.”
It ruled the child’s body would be “permanently and irreparably changed”, and that this alteration went “against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director responded: “The decision by a district court in Cologne, Germany, to deem non-medical circumcision a crime places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith.
“We support the call by the Central Council of Jews in Germany for the German parliament to quickly pass legislation specifically protecting circumcision as a religious practice. Germany’s commitment to religious freedom requires nothing less.”
Foxman concluded with a warning that “while the ruling by the court in Cologne does not appear to have anti-Semitic intent, its effect is to say ‘Jews are not welcome.””
The Jewish Press, which was the first Jewish news website to run this as a major story, was inundated with reader comments and a battle of pro- and anti-circumcision opinions was raging here overnight. For the most part, though, the debate was conducted in a civilized manner, except for one Facebook visitor who threatened to stab to death the next mohel he met. Otherwise, everybody behaved.