Germany resumes ritual circumcisions after bitter dispute
Shopkeeper Nevzat Cavan is rushing to meet orders for the white, fur-trimmed costumes worn by Muslim boys for their circumcision, relieved that Berlin’s city government has allowed the operations to resume.
For three months, the elaborate suits, capes and oriental slippers languished unsold due to a shock court ruling that raised the possibility of criminal charges being brought against families who had their sons circumcised.
“There were days when we didn’t even open the till, but now the phone never stops ringing,” Turkish-born Cavan said.
The Cologne court ruling in June outraged Germany’s Muslims and Jews, and triggered an anguished national debate, by stating that ritual circumcision of under-aged boys amounted to “bodily harm” and parents should wait for their son to make his own decision.
The ruling applied only to the Cologne area but Jews and Muslims across Germany feared it would create a legal precedent, and doctors fearing prosecution stopped performing operations.
Jewish and Muslim groups branded the court order an attack on their religious freedom and an embarrassed German government – particularly sensitive to charges of intolerance because of the Nazi past – vowed to bring in legislation swiftly to protect ritual circumcisions.
Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin, and 120,000 Jews. Chancellor Angela Merkel said if it failed to take action it risked becoming a laughing stock.