The German cabinet has agreed to make sure religious circumcision remains legal following a court ruling earlier this year banning it in the province of Cologne.
Carrying out Chancellor’s Angela Merkel’s promise to Jewish leaders, the cabinet agreed on Wednesday to legislation that allows circumcision on condition that it is performed according to medical standards.
The cabinet decision was "an important signal to clear away any ambiguity among Jews and Muslims," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger stated. The Justice Ministry added the new text would "remove the legal uncertainty created by the judgment of the regional court in Cologne."
While considering a case brought against a doctor who had circumcised a Muslim boy, the court in the western German city ruled that the rite was tantamount to grievous bodily harm. Germany’s population includes more than 200,000 Jews and approximately four million Muslims. The Biblical commandment for Jews to circumcise all Jewish male babies is one of the foundations of Judaism. Muslims also practice circumcision.
Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council for Jews in Germany, called the bill “decidedly savvy, well-considered, and fair.”
The decision united Jewish and Muslim groups in opposition and caused outrage from religious and political leaders in Israel and Muslim countries, AFP reported.
Diplomats admitted that the ruling proved "disastrous" for Germany's international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past.
Merkel was reported to have warned that Germany risked becoming a "laughing stock" if it banned circumcision.