The Council of Europe has assured Israeli president Shimon Peres of its commitment to religious tolerance, following a resolution condemning male ritual circumcision.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland replied to a letter sent by Mr Peres, which told the council that banning circumcision would impede religious freedom.
The non-binding resolution passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe earlier this month calls male ritual circumcision “a violation of the physical integrity of children” and relates it to female genital mutilation.
But in response to Mr Peres’s protests, which stressed the resolution’s damage to Jewish communities’ freedom across Europe, Mr Jagland said he understood “the reaction of many people, specifically from the Jewish and Muslim communities to the resolution”.
He stressed that, while female genital mutilation is specifically banned, there are no legal provisions regarding the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons.
He added: “I can assure you of the Council of Europe’s continued and unequivocal commitment to tolerance and freedom of religion.”