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Posts Tagged ‘Cologne’

New Brit Mila Legislation May Be Weeks Away in Germany

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Ritual circumcisions have resumed in the Cologne region of Germany, ending a controversy started in a Cologne court in June, when judges decided ritual circumcision constituted “bodily harm” to boys and religious coercion.

Though the court decision only prevented Jewish and Muslim circumcisions in one portion of Germany, religious rights groups decried the decision and feared the legal precedent would lead to the ban of circumcisions throughout the country.

The groups invoked Germany’s history of religious intolerance and vowed to fight for ritual circumcisions in the courts and through public campaigns.

The Justice Ministry has issued new legislation to reinstate ritual circumcisions, but only provided that families endure a thorough medical elucidation of the risks and processes of circumcision by a professional, and utilize “the most effective pain relief possible” when performing the ceremony.  The legislation is still pending.

Approximately 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews live in Germany.

Germans Do Not Favor Male Circumcision

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

During the past decade, life has become more difficult for Jews in Europe. They are not only the victims of a rise in anti-Semitic violence and intimidation, mostly as a result of the growing numbers of radical Muslim immigrants in Europe. They are also finding their right to practice their religion restricted as Europe becomes an environment where Jewish dietary rules and ancient traditions are being criticized and even outlawed. This time, ironically, they are being joined by Muslims.

Male circumcision — a medical procedure in both Judaism and Islam that has nothing to do with female genital mutilation or “female circumcision,” which is not required by the Koran, and which has no medical benefits, only medical liabilities — could well be the latest victim of misguided political correctness, despite massive medical evidence that male circumcision is “cleaner,” meaning that the area involved becomes less prone to harboring infections and transmitting diseases.

Last month, Dieter Graumann, the president of the German Zentralrats der Juden (Central Council of Jews), warned that “Jewish life will become practically impossible” if circumcision of male infants is banned in Germany. On May 7, an appeals court in Cologne ruled that circumcision is an infringement of a child’s physical integrity and that it violates the child’s right to self-determination. Subsequently, the German Medical Association advised doctors no longer to perform circumcisions for non-medical reasons. The decision to prohibit male circumcision on the grounds of “religion” embodies a breathtaking lack of regard for both personal and public health, and the regressive preference for religion and political correctness over science. In the United States, for example, it has long been considered a fundamental of public health to circumcise all male infants shortly after birth — unless specifically asked not to — regardless of religious affiliation.

Last Thursday, fortunately, the German Bundestag approved a cross-party motion to protect the religious circumcision of boys. The resolution urges the government to draw up a bill explicitly allowing the practice. Nevertheless, it is indicative of Europe’s growing intolerance towards religious practices that courts have begun to issue verdicts such as the one in Cologne that prohibits circumcision.

The Cologne Landgericht ruled that religious circumcision of boys is a violation of the child’s physical integrity and hence unlawful. The verdict states that circumcision has a “permanent and irreparable effect” on the child’s body, which violates the child’s physical integrity and infringes on its right later to change its religion. The court added that the child’s right to self-determination has precedence over its parents’ freedom of religion.

The case began after a Muslim doctor circumcised a 4-year old boy. Two days later, the wound began to bleed and the child was rushed to a hospital. The hospital informed the authorities, whereupon the public prosecutor brought the doctor to court. When the court acquitted the doctor, the public prosecutor appealed the verdict. Although the Cologne Landgericht again acquitted the doctor on the basis that “the legal status (of circumcision) is very unclear,” the ruling unequivocally condemned male circumcision. Fearing that the ruling would set a precedent to be followed by other German courts, the Medical Association advised doctors to stop circumcisions for religious reasons.

The verdict was applauded by many organizations. Deutsche Kinderhilfe, a non-profit organization to aid children, said that the wellbeing of children had been served by the court. The German Institute for Pediatric Surgery stated that the verdict conformed to medical ethics. The Professional Union of Pediatricians warned “for the trivialisation of this form of physical damage by the circumcision defenders” and said that the right of children to physical integrity should be society’s primary concern.

The International League of Non-Religious and Atheists also welcomed the verdict, stating that religiously motivated circumcision is a form of physical damage and mutilation. Terre des Femmes, an international women’s rights organization, also applauded the Cologne verdict. It said the physical integrity of children should not be restricted for religious reasons.

In the German media, psychotherapists stated that circumcision on six- or seven-year old boys can have a traumatic effect. Jewish organizations pointed out that Jews have been circumcising boys on the eighth day after birth for thousands of years, without any Jewish men later complaining about harmful side-effects. They also emphasized that male circumcision cannot be equated to female genital mutilation.

It’s Official: No Circumcision in Germany – Jewish Hospital Bans the Brit

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Jewish Hospital in Berlin has suspended all religious circumcisions of children following a ruling delivered by a German court on June 24 banning the practice.

The district court in Cologne ruled that circumcising young boys “is a serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” and raised an outcry of protest from Jewish and Muslim groups, both religions performing circumcisions on their children as a symbol of religious faith.

The ruling was made on a case in which a 4 year-old Muslim boy’s circumcision by a doctor led to pervasive bleeding and medical complications.

Gerhard Nerlich, a spokesman for the hospital, announced that “we are suspending circumcisions until the legal situation is clarified”.

The hospital performs approximately 100 religious circumcisions a year.  Two surgeries scheduled to take place were cancelled by the hospital, with calls placed to the families explaining the reason.

In its ruling, the court found that performing the religious circumcisions impinged on a child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” and was “against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong”.  “Even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, [circumcision] should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent”, the court said.  It noted that once a boy reaches the age of consent, he will be permitted to have a religious circumcision performed on himself.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the ruling as “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities”, calling it “outrageous and insensitive”.

Rabbi Shimshon Nadel of Har Nof, Jerusalem, said the ruling was indicative of Germany’s sentiments toward Jews.  “Throughout Jewish history, there have been many attempts to ban circumcision – this is nothing new, and unfortunately, anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head in Germany,” he said.  “The circumcision procedure is something that is safe when performed by a trained mohel [performer of ritual circumcisions], we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so it really comes down to the training of the mohel.”

The World Health Organization estimated that approximately 1/3 of men around the world are circumcised.

Germany is home to millions of Muslims and over 100,000 Jews.

Chabad of Berlin could not be reached for comment.

 

Please see the petition on Germany’s ban.

Shocking German Ruling May Lead to ‘Circumcision Tourism’

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

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.

German Court Criminalizes Religious Circumcision

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

A Cologne district court ruled on Tuesday that parents may not have their sons circumcised for religious reasons. The ruling has angered Muslims and Jews.

Non-medical circumcision is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court declared, essentially criminalizing religious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported.

The court now considers circumcision a crime of bodily harm.

The court decided that a legal guardian’s authority over a child does not allow them to subject the child to the procedure.

Also, the court rejected the notion that religious freedom, which is protected by law in Germany, should permit a guardian to make such decisions for the children in their care.

German doctors performing circumcisions that are not medically necessary could claim, until this ruling, that they were unaware that performing a circumcision is a crime, writes the Financial Times Deutschland. This is no longer the case, said.

Before the Cologne district court was a case against a Muslim doctor, who performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy at his parents’ request. Two days later the child started to bleed and was taken to hospital.

German authorities launched a criminal investigation against the doctor. The original court trial ruled in favor of the doctor, but the local prosecutor appealed to the Cologne district court.

Tuesday’s decision sets a precedent, which may affect medical and religious practice across Germany.

Because of the involvement of religious rights in the case, experts have suggested the case will be further appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Holm Putzke of the University of Passau, who has been advocating for years against circumcisions, told the Financial Times Deutschland that “the court has, in contrast to many politicians, not allowed itself to be scared by the fear of being criticized as anti-Semitic or opposed to religion.”

He added: “This decision could not only affect future legal rulings but in the best case it could lead to a change of consciousness among the affected religions when it comes to respecting the basic rights of children.”

The possibility of a legal ban on circumcisions is causing outrage among Jewish and Muslim organizations in Germany.

“The Court’s decision is unacceptable and gravely violates religious freedom,” says Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, vice president of the Rabbinical Center of Europe. “The decision is contrary to human rights charter of the European Union, to which the German legal system is committed, and undermines the basic right to worship in the German Constitution.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/german-court-criminalizes-religious-circumcision/2012/06/26/

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