'Germany must pass law to protect circumcision'

Rivlin tells Bundestag president that court ruling against circumcision cannot go unchallenged.

June 27, 2012 19:39
1 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin [file]

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset Channel)

The Bundestag will have to solve Germany’s crisis in freedom of religion, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday, after a court in Cologne ruled to ban circumcision.

Rivlin and MK Ya’acov Edri (Kadima) met with Bundestag President Norbert Lammert in Germany, where they discussed Monday’s controversial ruling, in which circumcision was called “illegal and severe intervention in the body of the child.”

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“This is a clash between the law and freedom of religion, but I’m not worried,” Lammert said. “The German court has yet to say its final word on this matter.”

Rivlin responded that the Bundestag can solve the problem, because the court behaves according to the laws passed by parliament.

“The German parliament understands the repercussions of this matter. At the moment, it is a local court decision, but without a doubt the Bundestag will have to deal with this subject that affects Muslims and Jews. This is an intervention in freedom of religion and worship,” the Knesset speaker stated.

From a democratic and constitutional standpoint, it is problematic to say that someone cannot act according to his religion, he added.

The ruling in Cologne on Monday was in the case of a four-year-old who bled for days after his circumcision.

The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday expressed strong support for the call by the Jewish community in Germany for parliament to quickly pass legislation specifically protecting circumcision as a religious practice. The ADL noted that circumcision of newborn male infants is a “core religious rite of Judaism.”

The court ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.”

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, issued the following statement: “Circumcision of newborn male children is a core religious rite of Judaism, practiced by Jews around the world. 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.”

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