A regional court in Cologne Germany has ruled that the practice of circumcision performed on young male children was illegal. According to the Judges
…circumcision went against the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.” They added that religious freedom would not be curtailed because the child would be able to choose later whether he wanted to have a circumcision. However, if the parents decided for the boy, it changed the body of the child “irreparably and permanently” and went against that child’s rights to choose his religious beliefs.
“The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.
Circumcision is a key rite of both the Jewish and Muslim religions, but the ruling throws the practice into limbo. Could a Doctor or a Mohel who performs a circumcision be arrested? Parents sued?
Holm Putzke, a professor of criminal law at the University of Passau in Germany, told JTA that he hoped the decision would inspire conversation about “what should be given more weight – religious freedom or the right of children not to have their genitals mutilated.” Putzke has crusaded for anti-circumcision laws for children for many years.
“After the knee-jerk outrage has faded away, hopefully a discussion will begin about how much religiously motivated violence against children a society is ready to tolerate,” he said to German news agency DPA according to the New York Times.
Religiously motivated violence against children? I don’t think so! Jews have been circumcising their male children on the eighth-day of life ever since Isaac (Abraham’s circumcision was when he was in the 90s).
Are the Judges just indicating that they do not wish to have Jews or Muslims in their country?
Historically movements to ban circumcision are centered in attempts to move the Jewish commitment from God and refocus it on man. In fact almost every campaign to destroy the Jewish people started with a ban on circumcision, followed by a ban on kosher slaughter and finally a ban on teaching Torah.Whether they were meant to be anti-Jewish or not, the ruling by the German court (as well as last year’s ballot initiative in San Francisco) are fundamentally anti-Semitic. Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt and believe their intent to be Humanist or Hellenistic the end result is banning key Jewish rituals.
The brit milah (covenant of circumcision) is one of the most central practices of Judaism). The Rabbis tell us that males are not born perfect on purpose. Circumcision gives fathers (the parent who is ordered to conduct the ritual) a chance to participate in the act of creation. We believe that God has a huge role, and mothers obviously have the role of developing the baby within her body, but through the act of brit milah dad has the role of adding the final touch, making the boy perfect.
But don’t get the idea that circumcision is something some ancient rabbis dreamed up. There are Jewish practices originate from Rabbinical interpretation of what is written in the Torah, such as not eating milk with meat (Rabbis got that from the Torah saying “Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk 3x)
Circumcision however, is directly commanded in the Torah, the five books of Moses. The command for circumcision appears in Bereisheet (the Hebrew name for the book of Genesis which roughly translates to In the Beginning).
You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, as a sign of the covenant between Me and you. At the age of eight days, you shall circumcise every male child born to you throughout the generations …Bereisheet 17:11-1
Circumcision is not interpretation of what God wants, but according to Jews (and Muslims as well) it is a direct order –right there in ink and parchment. From what I understand from my Christian friends, they too believe that the Torah is the word of God (but commandments such as circumcision apply only to Jews)
There is also a medical reason for circumcision; it is an established scientific fact that circumcision helps prevent HIV.
The case in Germany was brought after a
four-year-old Muslim boy in Cologne was rushed to the hospital when he was found to be bleeding heavily a few days after a doctor had performed a circumcision under the boy’s parent’s request. The doctor was charged with grievous bodily harm.
The doctor was both acquitted by a lower court that determined that he was legally right to perform the circumcision because he had parental consent and cited religious freedom. The ruling was appealed, and although the regional court also acquitted the doctor of any wrongdoing,
it was the court’s reasoning that caused controversy in the religious
Thankfully injuries as a result of circumcision are very, very few and far between (although after my bris at eight days old, I could not walk for over a year, the same thing happened with my son).
This German court ruling was nothing less than an attack on religious practice.