September 9, 2012
German Jews, Muslims unite to protest against circumcision banBerlin, Germany - Hundreds of German Jews and Muslims held a joint rally in Berlin on Sunday demanding that their "freedom of religion" be respected, in a rare show of unity to protest against a court order that banned ritual circumcisions.
The June ruling by a court in Cologne has sparked an emotive debate about religious freedom in a country which is sensitive to any accusations of intolerance because of its Nazi past.
Although the ban applied only to the Cologne region, doctors across the country have refused to carry out operations because of what they say is a risk of legal action.
Some 300 Muslim and Jewish protestors and their supporters gathered together at Berlin's Bebelplatz square, known as the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony.
They waved banners reading "Foreskin? No Thank you", or "Finally, Germany is a colonial power again" against a cartoon image of a boy whose foreskin was the colors of the German flag. Some came wrapped in the Israeli flag.
"We were getting sick and tired of all the heated and incompetent gibberish on circumcisions," Lala Suesskind, the former head of Berlin's Jewish community, told Reuters.
"So today, we want to clarify a few things through our rabbi ... what circumcision really is and what circumcision means to our religion," she added.
Berlin last week became the first of Germany's 16 states to protect the practice, saying that doctors could legally circumcise infant boys for religious reasons.