FaithWorld

Germany passes law to protect circumcision, overruling court decision

December 12, 2012

(Protestors wearing overalls daubed with red paint on the genital area, demonstrate against male circumcision, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin December 12, 2012.  REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski )

German politicians passed a law on Wednesday to protect the right to circumcise infant boys in a show of support for Muslims and Jews angered by a local court ban on the practice in May.

The ban – imposed on the grounds that circumcision amounted to “bodily harm” – triggered an emotional debate over the treatment of Jews and other religious minorities, a sensitive subject in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.

The outcry prompted Germany’s centre-right government and opposition parties to draw up legislation confirming the practice was legal – overruling the decision by a court in the western city of Cologne.

The new law passed by an overwhelming majority in Bundestag lower house said the operation could be carried out, as long as parents were informed about the risks.

Jewish groups welcomed the move.

“This vote and the strong commitment shown … to protect this most integral practice of the Jewish religion is a strong message to our community for the continuation and flourishing of Jewish life in Germany,” said Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress.

Germany’s Catholic Bishops Conference said it hoped the bill would help safeguard religious freedoms. No comment was immediately available from the country’s Central Council of Muslims.

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