The government’s campaign against laws in Europe banning brit mila, or ritual circumcision, continued Tuesday, with Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eliahu Ben- Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) meeting with Council of Europe secretary-general Thorbjorn Jagland in Berlin.

“The Council of Europe cannot violate freedom of religion and fight the principles of Judaism that the Jewish people observed for thousands of years,” Ben-Dahan said.

The deputy minister’s comments came over a month after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution calling male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children.” The council also said that countries should protect children “against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards.”

Since then, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) called for MKs with connections to European politicians to make the issue a priority. Many plan to meet with parliamentarians from across the continent.

Ben-Dahan also spoke to Jagland about the importance of shechita, or ritual slaughter, which is illegal in some parts of Europe.

“Freedom of religion and worship is of upright importance for every person of every religion anywhere in the world,” he emphasized. “Circumcision is the first mitzva, given only to the Jewish people; it is the first mitzva our patriarch Abraham fulfilled and it is the first one every Jew fulfills.”

According to Ben-Dahan, ritual circumcision symbolizes the eternal connection between the Jewish people and God.

Jagland told him that PACE did not wish to violate freedom of worship for Jews and that the organization sought to protect Jewish people and allow them to keep their traditions.

He added that he would send this message to member governments.

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