It has been reported that Jewish religious leaders will hold an international meeting in Berlin in the wake of a controversial German court ruling against performing circumcision on baby boys.
The same ruling by the court in the western city of Cologne is also causing uproar in the Muslim community in Germany, which practices the same tradition as the Jews.
In fact the ruling that circumcision for non-medical reasons is bodily harm – a criminal assault – came about when a Muslim boy suffered bleeding after the operation.
Now, both the Jewish and Muslim groups are raising this issue and protesting, if only to prevent the ‘criminalization’ of circumcision after viewing such ruling as an infringement of their religious freedom.
Jews usually circumcise male infants eight days after birth, while the time for Muslim circumcision varies by family, religious beliefs and country.
Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, slammed the ruling as “perhaps one of the gravest attacks on Jewish life in the post-Holocaust world.”
“The court utterly failed to consider how fundamental Brit Milah is to the Jewish faith and identity,” added Goldschmidt, using the Hebrew term for circumcision.
Needless to say that more than the medical concern, it is the religious and cultural significance of circumcision that plays a bigger role in the lives of both the Jews and Muslims.
According to the Jewish bible, the Torah, it should be performed when the boy is eight days old.
A rabbi said that, “Right at the beginning of the child’s life. We’re actually told that the entry of a divine soul into the child begins at the time of circumcision,”
Out of this controversy, some questions are being asked: Should the state keep its nose out of this contentious issue while integrating Jews and Muslims into German society? Or is the court simply fulfilling its duty to protect infants and young children from unnecessary surgical procedures that they have no way of making a choice about?
Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews.
Now, be that as it may, and with all due respect to the aforementioned religions, to me the procedure is, more than anything, a hygienic measure. I certainly disagree with some critics who say that hygiene is no longer a ground for circumcision because running water is everywhere for cleaning the foreskin. But why keep the extra skin when it is more convenient without it?
How do we call it then – German cut?