Germany approves law allowing ritual circumcision

By Toby Axelrod, October 11, 2012

Germany’s cabinet this week approved a law that will protect the right of Jews and Muslims to have their sons ritually circumcised.

The law can now go to the German parliament for debate and final approval, which is expected this autumn.

The proposed law, which introduces restrictions on who can perform a circumcision and requires the use of anaesthetics, comes in response to critics of the practice, who call it child abuse.

The entire discussion was triggered by a Cologne District Court ruling in May, which found the circumcision of a minor to be a crime.

That ruling, published in June, pitted children’s rights activists against proponents of religious freedom in Germany. It also drew together Jewish and Muslim leaders, as well as Jews of all stripes, to speak out in defence of the ritual.

“Extremely wise, balanced and fair”

According to the Rheinische Post newspaper, Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has called the proposed bill “extremely wise, balanced and fair”. He said it would send a “clear signal” that Germany wants its Jews and Muslims to be able to practise their faith.

Last updated: 5:06pm, October 16 2012