L A Times
August 22, 2012
German lawmakers work on legislation to protect circumcisionBy Renuka Rayasam
BERLIN - Israel’s top rabbi is in Berlin to rally support among German political leaders regarding legislation to protect the practice of ritual circumcision in Germany, which was called into question earlier this year by a controversial court ruling that Jewish and Muslim leaders said threatened their religious freedom.
In June, after a Muslim boy suffered health complications from the practice, a court in the western German city of Cologne declared nonmedical circumcision to be criminal because it causes children bodily harm. Amid outrage from some religious groups, lawmakers quickly passed a resolution promising legislation guaranteeing legal protection for circumcision.
This week, officials have been meeting with Yona Metzger, chief rabbi of Israel's Ashkenazi Jews, to craft legislation on the issue. But the stakes were raised further Tuesday after a doctor in the southern German city of Hof, in Bavaria, reportedly filed charges with local prosecutors against a rabbi there to stop the practice. Prosecutors must still decide whether to act on the charges, which the Council of European Rabbis described as a “grave affront to religious freedom.”
“This latest development … underlines the urgent need for the German government to expedite the process of ensuring that the fundamental rights of minority communities are protected,” the council said in a statement on its website. [Never mind the fundamental rights of children.]
... But finding a compromise hasn’t been so simple, with opponents of the practice saying that what they see as protecting the rights of children should come above religious freedom. [Note the loaded language, and the assumption that freedom of religion entails the freedom to cut parts off non-consenting people's genitals - not just what some other people "see it as".]
The European rabbis’ council says that using anesthesia or having a doctor perform circumcision instead of a mohel would not be in accordance with Judaism. Metzger told reporters Tuesday that he suggested establishing a school for mohels in Germany with both religious training from rabbis and medical training from doctors in case of complications from circumcision.
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