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Merkel soothes Jewish ire over circumcision row

The Local · 26 Nov 2012, 07:39

Published: 26 Nov 2012 07:39 GMT+01:00

"The respecting of religious ritual is a fundamental good," she told the annual gathering of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in the western city of Frankfurt on Sunday.

"I am delighted... that there is a lively Jewish community in Germany," added the chancellor.

In a ruling published in June, a court in the western city of Cologne judged the rite to be tantamount to grievous bodily harm, prompting international outrage and calls for more legal clarity.

The ruling united Jewish and Muslim groups in opposition and German diplomats admitted privately that it had proved "disastrous" for Germany's international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past.

Merkel was reported to have cautioned that Germany risked becoming a "laughing stock" if circumcision were banned in the country.

Last month, her cabinet passed a draft law to permit circumcision and clarify the legal situation. Merkel said she believed it to be a "balanced text."

"I hope it can be agreed in the Bundestag before Christmas," she added, referring to the German lower house of parliament.

The new bill stipulated certain provisos for a boy to be circumcised. Among these conditions, the draft law said the practice must be carried out "professionally" and "with the most effective pain relief."

An exception must also be made in individual cases if there are health risks, for example if the infant is suspected of being a haemophiliac.

The head of the central committee for Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, thanked Merkel for her assistance in what he described as "difficult times."

"It is important that German politicians acted and came up with legislation that we can live with," Graumann said. "This visit has done us good in a time that is difficult for us," he added.

Story continues below…

Merkel also used the visit to reiterate Berlin's support of Israel following eight days of violence in and around Gaza, which left 166 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

"Every country has the right to defend itself. This is not only the right but also the duty of every government," said Merkel.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:04 November 26, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Angie messing with a court ruling. Hmmmm. Let me see. When did that happen before in Germany?
10:27 November 26, 2012 by sonriete
The article describes "international outrage" over the ruling banning circumcision, as this played out over the months, there was also enormous outrage expressed by the other side, outrage that this is still permitted to be practiced in the 21st century.

Why report on one sides outrage, while ignoring the others?
10:45 November 26, 2012 by raandy
sonriete, I for one was outraged at the barbaric practice,

The decision to allow this by professional qualified persons is correct.

""German diplomats admitted privately that it had proved "disastrous" for Germany's international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past.

Only in their minds, never saw it on the head line of any international paper.
10:56 November 26, 2012 by Repatriated
International outrage over Germany's civil laws can go to hell. Why should Germany be concerned what other nations think about our laws. Germany has among the most civilized and equitable civil laws in the world, secondary to none..

Religious practices that contravene our civil laws should not be permitted to take precedence just because some religious fanatics want to practice and impose their antiquated religious beliefs into the German society. Germany has strict laws against child abuse, but yet we will allow the practice of circumcision of infants and minors (a clear example of child abuse) to continue, lest we offend someone's religious beliefs. Where the hell is the logic here?

By the same token why not allow the Muslims living in Germany to have four wives? After all, its permitted in the Koran and been their their religious practice for the past 1432 years. Aren't we afraid of offending their religious belief?
11:04 November 26, 2012 by sonriete
The fact is that the liberal democracies in the world are moving away from this practice, just as they are moving slowly but surely toward an embrace of marriage equality. It will become less common as time goes by.
11:12 November 26, 2012 by keeps71
All 4 comments to date absolutely spot on! Genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that, if it was carried out by any other organisation, would be banned immediately but under the guise of religious freedom, they get away with it and even have the chancellor (another religious zealot) championing their cause. Religion is without doubt the main source of hatred in the world - the quicker we put away these childish myths, the sooner we can make some real progress.
11:12 November 26, 2012 by Zubair Khan
Visiting the centre of one religious entity gives the impression of favouritism/discrimination and soft corner for this single community. In Germany reside divergent religious communities. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which elsewhere is also persecuted oft invited her to its annual gathering which is considered to be the largest gathering of Muslims in Western Europe but she never gestured favourably. Can the chancellor office examine this comment to clarify this impression.
11:32 November 26, 2012 by raandy
When one practices religious acts in their former homelands that are acceptable and then find those same acts unacceptable in their new land, it is time to either obey the law or return to their former land.
12:00 November 26, 2012 by tasoos
Foreskin- One of the few things that unites both Jews and Muslims.
12:00 November 26, 2012 by sonriete
Interesting article this week on DW.de this week on female circumcision, they indicate that with the new religious government in Egypt, the practice is gaining favor among the poor there again.
13:10 November 26, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
Frau Merkel seems to have forgotten that she was voted into power to represent the Germans, not to support governments which blatantly commit war crimes, or religious radicals who live here and mishandle small children in unnecessary brutal rituals.

The written German constitution not only guarantees the freedom of religion, but also the protection of children in accordance with international agreements. A government which is completely biased and continuously breaches its own basic laws cannot be trusted!
15:11 November 26, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Obviously planning to sell more arms to Israel so this little propaganda coup will not do Germany's arms industry any harm. Nothing like a little unrest in the middle east and the right sound bites to keep her industry lobbyists happy.
16:15 November 26, 2012 by Leo Strauss
It`s quiet. Too quiet. Where are all of the online zionazi cyber-warriors?

Click your handsets twice, if you can`t answer, boys.

Oh well...

Must have earned a week of R and R after spinning the latest Gaza massacre 24/7. Or still mopping up Hearts and Minds on another website?

Nevermind, dear posters. Let`s just bask in the sanity while it lasts.
18:41 November 26, 2012 by JOHNATAN

well,I must agree with you, every country has the right to fix its laws and then the citizens must obay to the laws. but the Jews are wellcome in Israel , there they can practice their religion without being disturbe,as much as I know the circumcision is not forbidden in USA.

Berlin fuer alles

Germany and other European countries and also USA and Russia sell weapons,also Israel sells weapon and also China export weapons, but where is the linkeage between Jews who live in Germany and practice their religion , the circumcision act ,which is practice also by moslems, and the weapons sold to Israel?
20:00 November 26, 2012 by yalefox
Angie's weapons sales to mid-east countries must be at risk.

If adult men decide to cut off the loose ends of their naughty bits, they're welcome to it. But doing this to children is unconscionable. The German court's decision is just and should be respected. Parents who want to carry out a barbaric ritual should have to travel to countries that permit the practice.
20:01 November 26, 2012 by Englishted
"Merkel soothes Jewish ire over circumcision row"

Did she rub in cream, I find that helps when you have a sore ire.
21:05 November 26, 2012 by JOHNATAN

as long as there are wars and aggresion in the middle east ,the countries there will buy weapons,and it has nothing to do with circumcision law

I do agree with you that the German law must be respected

You think this ritual is barbaric , it is your right of course to have such opinion , but there are millions of people around the world who do not condivide the same opinion as you got, the circumcision is part of their culture and they still support it,

yes it is true people who wish to live after their religion and tradition should do it in countries who permit it.
21:16 November 26, 2012 by sonriete

Many of millions of people also feel the same way about female circumcision, that it is an important part of their culture, yet people who feel these practices are barbaric feel a need to try and stop them wherever they take place, simply because it is human nature (we hope) to oppose barbarism wherever it takes place.

You may be interested in the article this week on DW.de (the German government public broadcaster) about what is happening right now regarding female circumcision in Egypt, it is quite illuminating.
13:59 November 27, 2012 by raandy
JOHNATAN, I am not sure about the laws in the US, they most likely would vary from state to state. I would hope that

!.) they require parental permission.

2.) that this is performed in accordance with sound medical practices.
18:47 November 27, 2012 by JOHNATAN

Thank you , if to be practical Isee no way how you can change the believe and the tradition of millions of people in Asia- Africa, I can see it done in Germany or other European countries.


As much as I know there is no such law in the states as I have family members in California , it may be different laws among the individual states ,I really can not say it.

I guess the practice is under medical laws,
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