Prejudice returns

The idea that any court, anywhere in the world, might take it upon itself to criminalise male circumcision is troubling enough. The fact that it was a German district court that did so this week is deeply disturbing.

The Holocaust began there with the creation of laws and rules that restricted all aspects of Jewish life. Distressingly, bureaucratised prejudice appears to be alive and well in the German courts. For the district judge, a single botched circumcision led to the conclusion that all such procedures amount to an infringement of a child's 'physical integrity'.

The brit milah is not just any aspect of Judaism. Circumcision is at the very core of being a Jewish male; it is a sign of the covenant of Abraham. The ruling that the German constitution limits the religious rights of the parents, and that that limit was breached by a religious circumcision, is, inescapably, a first step towards making the very practice of Judaism illegal in Germany.

Not only is circumcision a minor and safe procedure when carried out properly, the scientific consensus is that it helps prevent the spread of HIV - which is why Israeli doctors have spent the past 18 months training colleagues in 14 African countries to perform the operation. In this context, should Germany's constitutional court uphold the Cologne court's decision, there will be only one conclusion: systemic prejudice.

Last updated: 10:17am, June 29 2012