• Germany's news in English

Jews, Muslims protest for right to circumcise

The Local · 10 Sep 2012, 11:07

Published: 10 Sep 2012 11:07 GMT+02:00

"The 'yes' to circumcision must be guaranteed in law," demanded Lala Süßkind, former chairwoman of the Berlin Jewish community organization at the protest, which police said was attended by around 300 people.

Several Muslims and Christians joined the mainly Jewish demo, which took place under the motto "For religious freedom, against criminalization and authoritarianism." The event was the latest episode in the ongoing row sparked by a Cologne court ruling that classified circumcision as bodily harm.

Süßkind said it was unacceptable "that incompetent and intolerant people are always having their say." She added that the ritual was an important part of Jewish and Muslim identities, was medically accepted all over the world and had even been recommended by the World Health Organization.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also weighed into the debate, warning that it was being misunderstood abroad. "It is simply unimaginable that Jewish families in Germany will no longer be able to circumcise their boys," he said.

Kenan Kolat, chairman of the German Turkish community organization, said at the protest that "no-one will be able to stop the circumcision in Germany."

Last Thursday, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger promised, "The legal uncertainty would be removed by federal law as quickly as possible." Wolfgang Thierse, vice-president of the German parliament, also pledged to do everything his office allowed to ensure a law that safeguards religious circumcision.

Meanwhile, Berlin state's Justice Minister Thomas Heilmann announced last week that religious circumcisions would remain unprosecuted, as long as parents give their written consent and can prove their religious affiliation.

Story continues below…

But Wolfram Hartmann, president of Germany's association of children's and young people's doctors, said its members would not take part in religious circumcisions. In an interview with regional broadcaster RBB Inforadio, he argued that a child's right not to be physically violated outweighed the parents' right to religious freedom.

The Local/DAPD/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:05 September 10, 2012 by Zubair Khan
"German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger promised, "The legal uncertainty would be removed by federal law as quickly as possible." Wolfgang Thierse, vice-president of the German parliament, also pledged to do everything his office allowed to ensure a law that safeguards religious circumcision". Thank Almighty God sense and rationality prevails amongst those who run the country. Well done Justice Minister and Wolfgan Thierse. Bold instance by both of you has raised your stature in the eys of those who want to see Germany a country safeguarding and protecting the religious freedom.
13:26 September 10, 2012 by murka
Protest by 300 people? Ignore.
14:01 September 10, 2012 by Theta Me
Religious circumcision? C'mon... this is 21st century people!!!
14:26 September 10, 2012 by Englishted
"Kenan Kolat, chairman of the German Turkish community organization, said at the protest that "no-one will be able to stop the circumcision in Germany.""

So if we don't like a law ,then we have a right to ignore it? ,isn't that a threat? .

I can see this going to European law then it overrides each countries indevidual law I believe .2000 years of fairy stories and we still can't wake them up to the 21st century.
15:06 September 10, 2012 by Kat
Admittedly, male circumcision isn't the total mutilation that female circumcision is, but as this is a permanent thing, it should be the prerogative of the adult (NOT parent) to choose whether or not they want to be circumcised.
16:15 September 10, 2012 by Repatriated
German politicians have no backbone or testicles...they will always give in to whatever demands the Jews and Muslims make.
16:36 September 10, 2012 by Sastry.M
Ah Yes! At least we,Christians and Hindus, have found a a common front of absolute concurrence and understanding between the two warring factions of Palestina, viz. the Jews and the Muslims. Jerusalem and Palestina are the revered and holy places of Christian pilgrimage.India as a mufti-religious nation of largest democracy and absolute freedom, has no objection to individual religious rituals, since the Hindu sacred rituals far outweigh all those of other faiths from womb to tomb except circumcision unless medically advised for phimosis.

Now that a humanitarian EU (German) court has classified circumcision as causing bodily harm and since most Europeans are generally Christian by faith, the problem should be referred to native Christians of Palestina to accept the common J/M appeal for ritual circumcision authoritatively as native palestinians and let all local male population' vorhautiert' and leaving females to their personal choice because it is from where Christian faith propagated to the west.

Hopefully this may lead to true christian understanding of the present palestinian conflict.
16:52 September 10, 2012 by antopizzuto
Religion: that thing which make you rallying and protesting for your right to cut (a part of) your bone... :-)
17:35 September 10, 2012 by vonSchwerin
Based on that sign, I can't tell if the protester is for or against circumcision.

But listen people: do you want multiculturalism or not? You can't have it both ways. You can't have a religiously diverse, multiethnic European society and have everyone conform to your post-religious morality. Either you have a Europe for secular humanist, I-love-the-nanny-state types or you have a liberal society that tolerates different practices, even if they are "ancient" in origin.
17:48 September 10, 2012 by twisted
@ Repatriated - don't know about the backbone or testicles, but I have often wondered why German underwear for men do not seem to have a fly in the normal place. Do they not have penises? Or is it now prevalent to sit to pee? Just asking. I still buy my underwear in the US because of the fly thing....
18:23 September 10, 2012 by Englishted

Maybe if you pulled back the foreskin to wash ,you would not have such a problem with flies.
18:39 September 10, 2012 by karldehm
This is barbarism at its best. There is no reason to allow these kinds of acts to be committed on children. I hear that female circumcision is quite popular in Arab countries. Are we going to allow this too? Why don't we just bring back public executions, that would make me happy!
18:59 September 10, 2012 by sonriete
So, why do they fight so hard here for male circumcision but not female circumcision? Clearly man millions of females are circumcised in African and Arab countries, this is undoubtably an integral part of their culture, yet the activists don't stand up for it here, why not?
20:14 September 10, 2012 by Repatriated

I also buy my underwear in the States. The Germans are fundamentally sitzpinklers. The reason is truly logical because sitting and pinkling eliminates the messy splatter that comes from standing up, which needs to be properly cleaned. I have converted to the German way and it hasn't affected my masculinity at all.
21:18 September 10, 2012 by montosun
So many negative comments flying in. I am living in Germany for sometime now but I am not really able to see what Freedom people here talk about!! I believe Germany is all about Freedom of everything else except Religion!
22:15 September 10, 2012 by GolfAlphaYankee
@sonriete: "Clearly man millions of females are circumcised in African and Arab countries, this is undoubtably an integral part of their cultur"

@karldehm:" I hear that female circumcision is quite popular in Arab countries. Are we going to allow this too? "

No! female circumcision is only common in Egypt and Sudan ,,, virtually no other Arab country practice it.

male circumcision is fundamentally different both in its intent (sexual oppression vs hygiene) and consequences ( loss of sexual pleasure vs "potential" health benefits, just check the WHO).

and beside from that: females need society's protection not men .... if circumcision had the effects its opponents claim ... the male dominated society (we are talking middle east !) would have found ways to stop the practice.
23:02 September 10, 2012 by FAWZIA





23:24 September 10, 2012 by sonriete

Yes, I am aware that female circumcision in the Arab world is largely confined to Egypt and Sudan, these two Arab countries happen to be located in Africa, where the practice is very widespread across many countries.

An important part of the argument being made by those in favor is, in the words of Ms. Susskind in this article;

"the ritual was an important part of Jewish and Muslim identities"

The fact is female circumcision is an important part of the cultural identities in many African and some Arab societies.

They have been practicing it for as many centuries as the Jews and Muslims have been practicing it on boys.

If we are going to use this cultural argument and speak of how many thousands of years male circumcision has been practiced, let us be consistent and explore the cultural significance for the practice among girls as well.
00:07 September 11, 2012 by GolfAlphaYankee
on the WHO web site:


"There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. Three randomized controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe. WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasize that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence."
00:57 September 11, 2012 by James Loewen
Cutting the healthy genitals of a child is abuse.

Cutting an adult's genitals without their expressed understanding and consent would constitute assault and battery. Doing this to children is abuse.

No excuse for tampering with the genitals of children. No excuse, not even religion.
01:10 September 11, 2012 by GolfAlphaYankee
the American Academy of Pediatrics also do approve of the procedure but stoppes short from recommending it leaving the decision to the parents


"Male circumcision is a common procedure, generally performed during the newborn period in the United States. In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formed a multidisciplinary task force of AAP members and other stakeholders to evaluate the recent evidence on male circumcision and update the Academy¦#39;s 1999 recommendations in this area. Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure¦#39;s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement "

I would recommend everyone to read Jesse Bering wonderful article on ScientificAmerican before posting comment such the one by "James Loewen" above

01:15 September 11, 2012 by ebbelwoiguy
@GolfAlphaYankee: once again someone trots out the much debunked "60 percent reduction" study. For example:

01:54 September 11, 2012 by Hugh77
The WHO only recommends circumcision for ADULT VOLUNTEERS in areas of HIGH HIV prevalence. (And it is mistaken: the campain will not work, any benefit being cancelled by men throwing away their condoms, thinking they are immmune. And there is probably no benefit: http://www.circumstitions.com/HIV-SA.html) The AAP's policy is misguided. See tinyurl.com/aapanno for its many errors.

The Cologne court was right; any infant genital cutting is bodily harm and a violation of the child's rights. How can the Bundestag allow any male cutting, continue to forbid any female cutting, AND maintain the equality of the sexes?
04:07 September 11, 2012 by rosebudnv
this is a case of needless mutilation of an infant. it should be abolished.
05:04 September 11, 2012 by Klaipeda
Like other countries, Germany should set its own laws. Europeans should not pass archaic religious laws, particularly when it involves mutilation and pain inflicted on someone, particularly a baby. Immigrants should learn to follow the laws of the country they immigrate to. Europe is not some backward place where these type of voodoo practices should be allowed.

On a different topic, one can see why Muslims are mentioned. I doubt they're even making much noise about this. If the Muslims had a say in European (or American) politics, the west would not be bombing Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and half the Muslim world while defending the Israelis massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese every two years or so and giving them nuclear powered submarines so they can wipe Iran off the map. But the fact that the Jews object to this law makes it an issue. Their lobbies operate in every western country. Dual loyalty is more alive than ever before.
19:53 September 11, 2012 by ITAMAR

Germany has the right to set its laws and everybody who is German citizen must respect it.I do accept this affermation.

But what the circumcision debate in Germany which is an internal German issue ,has to do with what is going in the middle east or Afganistan?

With all respect to the minorities the majority of citizen in Germany are native German and the moslems even though a big minority is still a minority.

The Jews and the moslem are minorities in Germany but they have the right to protest and to fight for their religion practice and these two groups did it, but once a law was accepted and supported by the majority everybody who is not happy with it must think about changing the land he lives in.
21:42 September 14, 2012 by michael valerio
The jews and the muslims can go back to their respective countries and cut off their private parts in the name of religion or for any other reason if it would get them out of Europe.
Today's headlines
Hamburg votes on 2024 Olympic Games bid
A jogger runs past Olympic rings in Kiel left over from the 1936 games. Photo: Carsten Rehder/dpa

Hamburg votes on 2024 Olympic Games bid

2 hours ago

Hamburg residents voted Sunday in a crunch referendum on whether the northern German city should push ahead with its bid to host the 2024 Olympics, with staggering cost of the Games weighing on voters' minds.

Germany to send 1,200 troops to aid ISIS fight
Berlin has offered France Tornado reconnaissance jets. Photo: Luftwaffe

Germany to send 1,200 troops to aid ISIS fight

5 hours ago

Germany is planning to deploy 1,200 troops to help France in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria, its army chief said Sunday, in what would be the military's biggest deployment abroad.

Refugee spending revs up German growth
Germany will spend €10bn on housing, feeding and processing the more than 800,000 people coming to the country this year. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa

Refugee spending revs up German growth

8 hours ago

A massive influx of refugees, and accompanying billions in public spending, have provided Germany with a long-awaited answer to partners' calls for it to do more to jumpstart the eurozone economy.

Lufthansa inks pay deal with 30,000 ground staff
Lufthansa has yet to strike a deal with the UFO flight attendant's union. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa

Lufthansa inks pay deal with 30,000 ground staff

8 hours ago

German carrier Lufthansa, reeling under a series of recent strikes, said on Saturday that it had reached a wage rise accord with services sector union Verdi covering 30,000 ground staff.

Paris climate conference
Germans reluctant to go green, survey finds
This NASA handout shows CO2 release based on real emissions data. Photo: DPA

Germans reluctant to go green, survey finds

2 days ago

Most Germans might see climate change as a threat - but that doesn't mean they're willing to change their behaviour, according to a recent YouGov survey.

The Local List
The 10 greatest German Alpine ski resorts
Skiing in the Allgäu. Photo: DPA

The 10 greatest German Alpine ski resorts

2 days ago

This ski season looks set to be epic, with runs already open before December has even started - boding well for the rest of the season. We bring you the ten very best German resorts so you can make the most of it.

Bavaria accused of hoarding Nazi-looted art
Max Beckmann paintings in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. File Photo: DPA

Bavaria accused of hoarding Nazi-looted art

2 days ago

A group of US Congressmen have sent a letter to Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer, urging him to do more to help return art stolen by the Nazis to its rightful owners.

Berlin suspects freed hours after terror raids
Police stand guard as colleagues search a van in Britz, south Berlin, on Thursday evening. Photo: DPA

Berlin suspects freed hours after terror raids

2 days ago

Three suspects arrested in Berlin on Thursday night on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack were freed on Friday morning, police said.

Cologne fights drunks with walls that 'pee back'
"Don't pee here! The wall pees back!" warns a new sign in Cologne main station. Photo: DPA

Cologne fights drunks with walls that 'pee back'

2 days ago

In Germany, those who urinate in public places have their own name: "Wildpinkler" or "free pee-ers." But they're about to face a backlash in Cologne - in a very literal and embarrassing way.

Final days of Hamburg Olympic vote battle
Demonstrators against the Olympic bid. Photo: DPA

Final days of Hamburg Olympic vote battle

2 days ago

The finishing line is in sight. On Sunday Hamburgers vote on whether they want the 2022 Olympics to come to town and the result could be tight.

Germany's 10 most-expensive cities
Sponsored Article
How to figure out healthcare abroad
German ISS astronaut tells kids to follow their dreams
Sponsored Article
Why family companies need free trade and TTIP
90 percent of Germans want tougher security
Sponsored Article
'Innovative companies like Hövding benefit most from TTIP'
Are you living in Germany's most expensive city?
Sponsored Article
The cheapest and fastest way to transfer money
Should singer accused of homophobia represent Germany at Eurovision?
70 years since the Nuremberg Trials
The German connection in the Paris attacks
Snow expected on 'first weekend of winter'
10 years of Angela Merkel in Berlin
Could soldiers soon be patrolling German streets?
Second German Paris victim was teacher and journalist
'We can't beat Isis with military means'
How will Germany help France fight Isis?
One German confirmed dead in Paris attacks
'Don't take Paris out on refugees': German defence minister
Germany's minute of silence for Paris victims
Nightclub bans refugees for harassing women
OPINION: Refugees must learn to respect German values
The ancient German community at the heart of Texas
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd