- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
- Detroit porch shooting trial: Suspect says he didn’t know gun was loaded
- U.S. Navy admiral ‘receptive’ to giving Chinese counterpart a tour of carrier
- Islamic State orders female genital mutilation for Mosul girls, U.N. says
- U.N. school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed
- Obama encourages ICE to stand down, say former border agents
Circumcision ban ignites a religious battle in Germany
Question of the Day
BERLIN — A German court decision to criminalize religious circumcisions has turned into an international spat, as Israeli leaders urge Germany to protect the ancient rite and local Jewish and Muslim groups vow to continue the practice.
“Banning circumcision is tantamount to saying no Jewish life is possible in Germany,” said Mimi Levy Lipis, a mother, a Jewish resident of Berlin and a professor of cultural studies. “I don’t think Germany can afford to take that position.”
In May, the Cologne Regional Court ruled against a doctor who had performed the procedure on a Muslim boy, resulting in serious complications. Judges said the practice constitutes an irreversible physical change on a child who is not capable of giving his consent to the operation.
The procedure, which removes the foreskin of the penis, is widely practiced in Jewish and Muslim societies and in many parts of the United States. However, it is rare in Europe.
“Germans have no long history of circumcision. It’s just something that’s totally alien and foreign to them,” said Mrs. Lipis.
“But the only reason that Cologne verdict came to pass in the first place was that it involved a Muslim boy, and sprung out of Islamophobia.
“If the case had revolved around a Jewish child, the verdict would have been different. It just so happens that the Muslim question was also a Jewish question.”
Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained about the court decision in a meeting Wednesday with German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.
“We are very concerned that Europe becomes a place where circumcision is made illegal or denigrated,” he told reporters after his meeting. “That would be extraordinary dangerous and injurious for the Jewish community.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres told German President Joachim Gauck in a letter last week that circumcision is “at the core of Jewish identity.”
Some say that the Jewish community in particular has been able to appeal to Germany’s sense of guilt about its Nazi past.
“Historically, attempts to stop the Jewish people from performing this core Jewish rite, dating back to our patriarch Abraham, were associated with ancient Greek and Roman rulers and modern day tyrants like Stalin and Hitler — not democracies,” Mr. Cooper said in a statement issued last week from the Wiesenthal Center’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
Muslim organizations also have been quick to condemn the court decision and put pressure on the German government to protect the custom widely practiced in Islamic societies.
“If all religious communities and secular organizations act together, then the resistance will be too strong to go through with the decision,” said Serdar Yazar, secretary general of the Berlin-based Turkish Union, which represents Turks, who make up more than half of the 4 million Muslim people in Germany.
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- Conservative groups decry Democrats' 'war on women' tactic
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Astronaut shares 'saddest photo' from space: Bombs bursting over Israel, Gaza
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare enrollees faking for freebies
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq