Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Great Foreskin Debate Continues

I honestly felt remiss in delaying so long sharing this, because I noticed it right when it happened. The German government, clearly responding directly to pressure from me personally, responded to the court ruling made several weeks ago now which declared religious circumcision illegal:

Germany's foreign minister on Sunday offered assurances that Germany protects religious traditions after a court ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent...

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that a legal debate "must not lead to doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany."

"The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions," Westerwelle said in a statement. "All our partners in the world should know that."

That's good to hear, Guido, but even weeks later, it would appear that many are unsatisfied with these kinds of toothless assurances. So frightening is the stance of the German government--apparently, just one of many European abridgments of religious freedoms--that the Germans have driven together Jews and Muslims for a common purpose:

In a joint statement from Brussels earlier this week, a group of rabbis, imams and others said that they consider the ruling against circumcision ‘‘an affront on our basic religious and human rights.’’

...The German ambassador to Israel told lawmakers in Jerusalem on Monday that the government was looking into whether laws needed to be changed.

‘‘For us the deadline is not tomorrow, but yesterday,’’ Goldschmidt said of possible changes to the law. In the meantime, however, ‘‘we say to the Jewish community ... keep performing the brit milah, and have no fear.’’

Unfortunately, it may be difficult for the Jewish community to heed this call, since "the president of the German Medical Association this week recommended that doctors cease performing circumcisions for religious reasons until the law can be clarified."

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