Last month, a Cologne court ruled that male infants should not be circumcised until they could give their full consent. The ruling came in the wake of a Muslim boy who suffered bleeding and pain after the operation, Reuters reports. The court decided that such a practice imposes bodily harm on an unconsenting body.
Many religious leaders have viewed this issue with a slightly different take. The Conference of European Rabbis plans to meet this Tuesday to talk about the decision and discuss ways to stop the ban. Reuters quotes Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi in Moscow, “We see this decision by a German court in the context of a new European intolerance towards other religions,” likening the decision to the head scarf ban in France.
The Israeli parliament also spoke out against the new ruling. Chairman Danny Danon made connections with the new ruling and the Holocaust. He is quoted via CBS News as saying, “Circumcision is one of the pillars of Judaism, and the last time it was restricted was in Germany during its darkest hour.”
Many leaders have accused European officials in support of the ban on circumcision as an outright refusal and banning of Judaism. Jewish leaders are not the only ones who feel that their religious rights are getting trampled on with this decision. Many Catholic and Muslim leaders also contend that the ruling is an attempt at stripping people and communities of their religious freedom.
Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan rebuts this viewpoint, stating in his usual up-front manner:
What’s at issue here is pretty simple. It’s about physical assault with permanent injury to a person without his consent. Now, as I’ve said many times, my own expansive view of religious freedom would allow legal circumcision for religious reasons. I do not agree with the Cologne court’s ruling. But that does not make physical assaults on infant children any less barbaric and cruel and wrong.
It may be possible the court will look into amending the ruling to accommodate the concerns of religious communities in the coming weeks.