A court in Cologne has ruled that ritual circumcisions of Jewish and Muslim children violate the rights of the children and cause them “illegal bodily harm.” Soon after, the Berlin Jewish Hospital announced that it no longer will allow ritual circumcisions to be performed under its auspices.
“As a result of the lack of legal clarity,” the hospital said, “the institution has been forced to cease circumcision surgeries for religious purposes until further notice.”
The “lack of legal clarity” refers to whether the German government will act quickly to protect the rights of Jews and Muslims to perform the procedures.
The government has signaled that it will act. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, saying that he wanted to dispel “doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany,” reportedly told the Associated Press, “The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions.”
Time will tell whether these are mere words. We urge Germany to move swiftly to end any confusion arising from the decision, and to end this threat to a basic right.