Circumcision Photo: Yad L'Achim

The Council of Europe has decided not to recommend a ban on circumcision. At a meeting of the Council in Strasbourg this week, it decided to accept arguments put forth by Jewish and Muslim groups supporting circumcision.

The joint effort was a rare one for Jews and Muslims in Europe, as both sought to uphold their ancient traditions in the wake of attempts by European Union governments to ban the practice, other than for dire medical need.

According to those opposed to circumcision, infants sustain significant “psychological damage” because they are unable to resist what they see as a violent attack on their body.

The EU, UN, and other international organizations have all seen circumcision as a form of “violence” against children, and have recommended banning the practice based on that.

To reverse the Council's recommendation, Jews and Muslims formed a joint committee to testify and present arguments in favor of the practice.

Among the members of the group, called the Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council, are the Conference of European Rabbis, the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), the Islamic Council of the Republic of Germany, and the World Islamic Relief Organization.

Representing Israel was MK Issai Freij (Meretz), who spoke before the Council on the human rights aspect of preserving circumcision.

Commenting on the new decision, Freij said that it was “a victory for logic. The debate over circumcision is a legitimate one, but those opposed to this ancient practice should be battling it through education, not legislation.”