(Fathers surround a boy as a doctor performs surgery during an Islamic group's circumcision session for boys in Khartoum April 7, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer )

A widely criticized German court verdict on religious circumcision this week aims only to delay the act, not ban it, and is not directed against any faith, a jurist with a leading role in the legal debate said on Friday.

The operation does serious bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it, said Holm Putzke, law professor at Passau University in southern Germany.

Using arguments Putzke has published in recent years, a court in the western city of Cologne ruled on Tuesday that the circumcision there of a Muslim boy who suffered post-operative bleeding had violated a German law against causing bodily harm.

Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders in Germany denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom. Even Germany’s foreign minister spoke out, saying such faith traditions must be allowed in a tolerant modern society.