Circumcision Ban Causes Religious Uproar in Europe

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.

Related Stories:

Gunter Grass Banned From Israel Over Poem

Gay Marriage in Germany and France?

A Brief History of the Religious Right: Timeline


Photo: chloester/flickr


T.L. H.
T.L. H4 years ago

This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths occur annually in the United States THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90

Because the cause of death is usually listed as a complication of circumcision like bleeding to death and the study showing 117 deaths per year is the latest 2010 estimate and is probably on the low side. SEXUAL MEDICINE TODAY, Volume 3, Number 11, Page 35-36,
November 1979.By Robert Leon Baker, M.D. Death rates in this country have to be estimated, however, because statistics on circumcision are not kept here.And at least 229 of these newborns will die as a result of the operation.

The other study on pain

THE LANCET, Volume 349, Number 9052: Pages 599-603,
March 1, 1997. Circumcised infants showed a stronger pain response to subsequent routine vaccination than uncircumcised infants.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

T.L.H.- even the article you quote claims that number is an "estimate."

Laura W.
Laura W4 years ago

OMG-he can choose to do it as an adult?--ouchhhhhh?? lol It's cleaner, better looking, less smelly and deemed by some to be a religious even--the most important part. Leave it alone. No one remembers. Teach the people in charge how to do it correctly. If G-d said, so be it.. Get over it,, learn to love.. Peace

Arienne d.
Arienne d5 years ago

I chose not to have my son maimed when he was born 17 years ago, although I know it's commonly done in the US. He can have it done if he wants when he's an adult. If somebody wants to do it for religious purpose, that's their choice. I resent that insurance will pay for that, but not other medical procedures for women.

Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

Mutilation of the genitals of children, child brides, and any so called'traditional' mistreatment of girls or women should be banned once and for all.This terrible stuff is just what it is, and no amount of excuses and claiming infringment on religious rights hold any water.YOU DO NOT CAUSE DELIBERATE PAIN to a non-consenting person. And they have know they do have a choice, you can't just brain wash them and claim they gave their consent. This is the 21st century for gods sake! NO MORE of this nonsense.Their bodies belong to them.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

David M. said- "In addition, it may well be found one day that the psychological damage done, especially on the infant boy, is not unrelated to a prevalence of a violent mindset among peoples who practise it- that is, US Americans, Jews and Muslims."

Really, David? C'mon.

David M.
David Marchesi5 years ago

Odd how this discussion becomes either "personalised" or one-sided , as if it were intended to cloak the essence of the matter. MGM is a kind of mutilation, performed most often on small people who cannot give valid consent. Like tattoos, scarification and body-piercing such imposed mutilations should be totally unacceptable in a civilised community. The religious bit is a sort of alibi for irrationality . In addition, it may well be found one day that the psychological damage done, especially on the infant boy, is not unrelated to a prevalence of a violent mindset among peoples who practise it- that is, US Americans, Jews and Muslims.Those of us outside those categories may be prone to violence as well, but are less likely, I think, to be proud to be the "bully on the block" In short, who in their right mind would assert that a painful and/or mutilating procedure can have no conceivable effect on the psyche of the victim ? An infant is not just an assemblage of tissues, some of which his elders insist must be removed( "my dad did it to me and it didn't do me any harm").
As for the gratification aspect referred to by at least one contributor, the response: if you haven't got it, you can't miss it .I don't think all but a lunatic fringe with an unhealthy interest in the subject would assert that better sex depends on the operation...That could be a good selling point, of course, but only if the buyer has his own cash and is of mature age.

T.L. H.
T.L. H5 years ago

Scott h.If you are going to fight circumcision you need to do a little more research.There actually are more than 1 type of female and male circumcision or mutilation.Some types of female circumcision are worse and some types of male are worse.Is removing the clitoris worse than removing the foreskin?Yes.Is removing the foreskin worse than the clitoral hood nick?Yes.Is removing the clitoral hood the same as removing the foreskin?Yes,they are equal.Is the male dorsal slit worse than nicking the clitoris?Yes.Is removing the Labia worse than removing the foreskin?Yes.Is penile bifurcation worse than removing Labia?Yes.Do boys and girls die from circumcision?Yes.Do boys and girls get infected with stds during circumcision?Yes,although more common in boys.Are boys and girls circumcised for religion?Yes.So some forms of FGM are not as bad as some forms of MGM.Removing the male foreskin is not the least harmful mutilation it actually is somewhere in the middle of the list.

Scott haakon
Scott h5 years ago

Very simply female circumcision is the REMOVAL of the clitoris while male circumcision is removal of the foreskin.
Once the clitoris is removed the ability to have sexual pleasure is eliminated.

T.L. H.
T.L. H5 years ago

Perfectly cutting the foreskin off of a baby and then sucking the blood out with your mouth and possibly giving the baby deadly herpes is totally on purpose not incompetence.Why shouldn't it be illegal.And why is it fine to circumcise a boy for religion but totally wrong to do the same to a girl.Circumcision for religion is exactly the same reason whether done to a girl or boy.