Circumcision ban is the 'worst attack on Jews since Holocaust'

European Jewish and Muslim leaders combine to voice their growing anger at 'affront to human rights'

Berlin

European Jewish leaders furiously condemned a German court's ruling outlawing circumcision as the "worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust" yesterday and demanded that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government intervene to protect the practice as a religious rite.

The damning remarks came amid growing European Jewish and Muslim outrage over a ruling by a Cologne court last month declaring that the circumcision of young boys could be considered a criminal offence because it caused bodily harm and infringed a child's right to integrity.

Yesterday, Moscow's Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis who made the Holocaust comments, added: "I see no future for Jews in Germany if the ruling is upheld".

Opinion polls conducted after the ruling found that a majority of Germans approved of the court's decision. Rabbi Goldschmidt said the poll's findings were "shocking". He said the court's ruling suggested that Muslims and Jews were no longer socially acceptable in Europe.

His remarks followed a strongly worded statement from European Jewish and Muslim community leaders, which underlined that circumcision was fundamental to both faiths, and demanded that the German government intervene to grant the practice legal protection.

They described the Cologne court decision as: "an affront to our basic religious and human rights."

The statement was signed, among others, by the heads of the European Jewish Parliament, the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Association, Germany's Islamic Union for religious Affairs and the Islamic Centre in Brussels. Leaders from both faiths also met members of the German and European parliaments to voice their anger at the court's decision and demand that clear legal protection of the rite be established.

Chancellor Merkel's government has so far avoided taking sides in the deepening debate in Germany.

However, the latest European Jewish and Muslim initiative will have dramatically increased the pressure on her coalition to take some action.

Germany's Green Party was among the first to respond yesterday. Renate Künast, the party's parliamentary leader said the Greens wanted to give Muslims and Jews legal security with new laws guaranteeing the right to circumcision on religious grounds. "We want to find a way which does not punish circumcision," she said.

In the wake of the Cologne court ruling Germany's Medical Association advised doctors to stop performing the operation because they could face legal consequences. The court's decision also prompted two Berlin hospitals to call a temporary halt to the procedure.

However, another influential doctor's organisation, the Hartmannbund said it fully supported Jewish and Muslim objections to the court's ruling. "Turning a hitherto generally accepted religious practice into a criminal offence amounts to one of the biggest forms of discrimination imaginable", said Bernd Lücke, a spokesman.

The Cologne ruling centred on the case of a four-year-old Muslim boy who was circumcised in one of the city's clinics in November 2010 on the express wishes of his parents.

Two days after the operation, the child's mother took the boy to the accident and emergency unit at Cologne University hospital because he was suffering from severe bleeding. State prosecutors subsequently charged the doctor who performed the operation.

A lower court found that the doctor had carried out the operation properly and ruled that the child's circumcision was in his interests as it signified his membership of the Muslim community. However the prosecution appealed to a higher Cologne court which overruled the lower court's verdict.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor