President Shimon Peres has received a speedy and encouraging reply to the letter that he sent on October 6 to Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe protesting the decision to ban ritual circumcision.
In the reply dated October 8, Jagland responds that he understands the reaction of many people, specifically from the Jewish and Muslim communities to the Resolution.
To clarify a point or in his words "to underline" the Parliamentary Assembly is a consultative body which does not represent the position of the Council of Europe as a whole.
While fully committed to children's rights to physical integrity, nothing in the body of the Council's standards would lead it to put on a equal footing the issue of female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, Jagland states., adding that while female genital mutilation is specifically banned as a form of gender based violence under the Council of Europe Convention, there are no similar legal provisions regarding the practice of circumcision of young boys for religious reasons.
Jagland assures Peres of the Council of Europe's continued and unequivocal commitment to tolerance and freedom of religion "which is not only a moral imperative, but a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights."