Lifestyle & Belief

Circumcision debate in Germany brings together Jews, Muslims in protest


The ban has ignited controversy in a country highly sensitive to its Nazi past and with ongoing, often tense debates about integrating its Muslim population.


Armend Nimani

The debate over circumcision in Germany continues, as Jews and Muslims jointly protested a Cologne court's ruling that the practice constitutes "unlawful bodily harm" Sunday. 

The protest, which brought together 300 people and 50 organizations in Berlin's Bebel Square, was prompted by news that a Bavarian rabbi was being investigated over the traditional religious practice, BBC News reported

"A 'yes' to circumcision must be be enshrined in a law," Lala Susskind, the former chairwoman of the Jewish Community of Berlin, said in a speech to demonstrators, Deutsche Welle reported

"We’re getting sick and tired of all the heated and incompetent gibberish on circumcisions. We’ve had it up to here," she added, according to Euronews.

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The issue first exploded after a June court case over a Muslim boy's circumcision, which concluded that circumcision was harmful to children. The German Medical Association subsequently told doctors across the country to stop performing the procedure, BBC News reported. 

On Wednesday, Berlin's city government passed a legal provision that would allow boys to be circumcised only once both parents have given written permission and shown proof of the "religious motivation and religious necessity of the circumcision," Agence France Presse reported

Jews rejected the proposal Thursday, which does not allow traditional Jewish "mohels" to perform the circumcision. 

Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he finds it "unbearable that we Jews are being branded as child tormenters and that Jewish life is being presented as illegitimate in some way," Deutsche Welle reported. 

Thomas Heilmann, Berlin's justice minister, said the new policy was intended to protect the rights of Jewish and Muslim parents and their children.

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