July 17, 2012
Cross-party support forms in Germany to back circumcisionBy Jean-Baptiste Piggin, Axel Hofmann
Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s supporters and the main opposition parties are in behind-the-scenes talks to endorse the Muslim and Jewish practice of circumcising boys, insiders said Tuesday.
They are jointly drafting a resolution to be passed on Thursday by the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, asking the government to overrule a court which ruled last month that circumcision is a form of assault.
There has been an international outcry over the trial of a Muslim doctor, who was let off but told that his circumcision of a young boy had been a crime because the child was too young to give consent.
Merkel‘s government has already said it will introduce legislation that explicitly allows circumcision, but this may take months. The urgent parliamentary resolution is seen as necessary to calm Jewish and Muslim anger on the issue.
Legislators said Merkel‘s Christian Democrats, the Christian Social Union and the Free Democrats (FDP), as well as opposition Social Democrats and Greens, were helping draft the broad resolution.
"Parliament has to do its bit to ensure that the religious beliefs of Muslims and Jews are respected," said Joerg van Essen, the FDP parliamentary whip. "The row shows we have to settle the law as quickly as possible."
Sources said all the parties agreed it was permissible to circumcise boys if the operation was done to a high standard. The resolution would at the same time condemn female circumcision. [Thus it will break the Basic Law 3.2 "Men and women shall have equal rights."] Other details had still to be negotiated.
While some commentators have supported the court ruling, Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Germany would be a laughing-stock if it became the sole country in the world to ban the practice. [So other countries should ban - or rather, age-restrict - the practice, Dumkopff!]
July 17, 2012
... But the court ruling has drawn support from some, including Britain's Secular Medical Forum which has written to Merkel urging her to resist pressure to make non-consensual circumcision lawful.
"We are shocked that religious groups deny the harm (caused by circumcision) and at the distorted and disingenuous claims made by those opposing the court's decision, wrongly suggesting that it is an indication of anti-Semitism," the chairman of the Secular Medical Forum, Dr. Antony Lempert, said in the letter.
"We urge you not to let such emotional blackmail persuade you to change the law or criticise the court's decision. As it stands, the court's decision ensures that today's children will be free to grow up to make their own decisions," it said.
Echoing such comments, Ronald Goldman, head of the U.S.-based Jewish Circumcision Resource Centre which opposes the practice, cited studies he said show that circumcision causes considerable pain and trauma.
"The majority of the world does not circumcise because of an instinctive awareness of the harm, analogous to cutting off any other healthy body part," it said in a statement entitled "The German Circumcision Ruling: What about the harm to the child?"
The German court ruling applies only to the city of Cologne and its environs - home to a large Muslim minority - but Jewish and Muslim groups fear it could set a precedent and the ban could spread to other parts of Germany.
German doctors have also urged politicians to act to clarify the legal situation, fearing the ruling may force circumcisions underground and increase health risks for young boys.
[This has never been offered as a reason to allow any female genital cutting - except briefly and abortively by a committee of the AAP in 2010 - though the health risks to them from backstreet FGC are much greater.]