The European Jewish Parliament (EJP) expressed its outrage on Thursday over a ruling of the German District Court of Cologne, which states that the circumcision of a child for religious reasons should be considered a physical assault.
On Tuesday, the court ruled that non-medical circumcision, practiced by most Jews and Muslims, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime.
The practice is a "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the Cologne district court decided.
The ruling involved the case of a Muslim doctor who performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy, who later suffered bleeding and was taken to a hospital emergency room. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court.
The EJP said in a statement on Thursday that it “firmly condemns this unacceptable interference in the prerogatives of religious communities and considers the argument that circumcision goes ‘against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong’ for the least surprising.
“The EJP recalls that ‘Judeo-Christian foundations’ of Germany are enshrined in the country's Basic Law and that circumcision of male newborns, practiced in all Jewish communities for millennia, is a rite that goes to the very core of Judaism. The EJP expects the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to nullify the court decision, which otherwise would set a precedent and permanently deprive parents of their basic rights regarding freedom of religion,” added the statement.
The EJP statement also called on German lawmakers “to issue legislation on this question in order to avoid any future violation of freedom of worship.”
Jewish and Muslim leaders in Germany were united on Wednesday in their condemnation of the court's decision to. Representatives of the two religious communities called the ruling insensitive and discriminatory, saying it was an attack on centuries of religious tradition.
Dieter Graumann, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, called the ruling “an egregious and insensitive measure” and said it amounted to “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities' right of determination.”
Ali Demir, chairman of the Religious Community of Islam in Germany, was quoted by The Guardian as having said, “I find the ruling adversarial to the cause of integration and discriminatory against all the parties concerned.”
He predicted that a ban in Germany would lead to a rise in “circumcision tourism in neighboring countries in Europe.”