Ruling on circumcision

June 29

A German District court in Cologne has decided to penalize religiously motivated circumcision. It would be counted as an element of assault and battery against individuals. Neither religious and cultural motivations nor medical argumentations would justify circumcision.

Ali Demir, representative of the community of Islam criticized the decision, because it would discriminate believers. Circumcision is a harmless intervention which has been rooted in different traditions throughout the last 1000 years, he declared. Demir also pointed at the potential of circumcision in reducing infections. A ban would actually encourage “circumcision tourism” of Muslim people to neighboring countries.

The President of the Jewish Central council in Germany Dieter Graumann condemned the decision as an unexampled intervention in the right to self-determination of religious communities.

The representative of the council of Muslims in Germany Aiman Mazyek criticized the decision as an inappropriate intervention in the rights of religious communities and parents. In his words, freedom of religion is a valuable good and should not become a cue ball of a one-dimensional jurisdiction.

The Turkish community in Germany expects a correction of the decision by a higher court. Many doctors will have to face a dilemma: Muslim communities will continue to ask their services even if circumcision has been compared to crime.

Only the human rights association “terre de femmes” and its representative Irmingard Schewe-Gerigk have welcomed the decision as “a pioneering step”, helping to prevent female genital mutilation and religiously motivated harm to the human body.

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