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Council of Europe: There's Nothing Illegal About Circumcision

Council of Europe head responds to President Shimon Peres's letter, assures him there's no law banning male circumcision.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/10/2013, 3:15 AM

Preparing for circumcision
Preparing for circumcision
Israel news photo: Flash 90

President Shimon Peres was assured on Wednesday that there is no binding law banning male circumcision in Europe for religious reasons.

The head of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, responded to a letter Peres had sent earlier in the week, urging the council to reconsider a resolution it adopted against circumcision.

Jagland clarified in the letter that there were no “legal provisions regarding the practice of circumcision of young boys for religious reasons.”

“Nothing in the body of our legally binding standards would lead us to put on equal footing the issue of female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons,” Jagland wrote Peres.

“I understand the reaction of many people, specifically from the Jewish and Muslim communities, to the resolution,” he emphasized.

The resolution, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, passed with 78 in favor to just 13 against.

Jagland wrote Peres that the Assembly is a consultative body that does not represent the positions of the Council as a whole.

Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned the resolution, saying that “any comparison of this tradition to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti- religious hatred, at worst."

The statement continued by debasing the claims that circumcision harms young boys’ health and body. "These claims are false and do not rest on any scientific evidence."