- - Sunday, July 1, 2012

BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister on Sunday offered assurances that Germany protects religious traditions after a court ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent.

Last week, a state court in Cologne ruled that the child’s right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents’ rights.

The ruling was strongly criticized by the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, who urged parliament to clarify the legal situation to protect religious freedom. Muslim leaders also expressed concern.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that a legal debate “must not lead to doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany.”

“The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions,” Mr. Westerwelle said in a statement. “All our partners in the world should know that.”


Voters reject call to remove prince’s veto

GENEVA — Voters in tiny Liechtenstein soundly rejected a call to take away the ruling prince’s power to veto referendum results.

Government figures showed that 76.1 percent of voters, or 11,629 people, rejected the initiative titled “Yes - So that your vote counts” in a referendum Sunday. Turnout was 82.9 percent.

Hereditary Prince Alois threatened to use his veto in September to block a plan to legalize abortion, but the majority voted against the change. The royal family could have vetoed having its power of veto voted down.

That would have made Alois the first prince to use his veto since his grandfather, Franz Joseph II, blocked a revision of the country’s hunting laws three decades ago.

Hans-Adam II, Alois’ father, never exercised the right of veto. However, he did push through a new constitution in 2003 that gave the monarch greater powers, including to appoint judges and fire the government without reason.

Alois rules the Alpine principality, which is wedged between Switzerland and Austria. Hans-Adam II remains head of state but has passed most of his powers to Alois.


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