Germany’s Jews and Muslims 'outraged' as circumcision is ruled to cause bodily harm and infringe child's rights

 

Berlin

Germany’s Jewish and Muslim communities responded with outrage today to a highly controversial court ruling which stipulated that the circumcision of young boys on religious grounds caused bodily harm and infringed a child’s right to physical integrity.

The divisive verdict, delivered by an appeals court in Cologne, involved the case of a Muslim boy who became seriously ill after undergoing the procedure, and ruled that the individual rights of the child took legal precedence over the religious rights of its parents.

The judges concluded that “circumcision contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on in life about his religious beliefs” and “the fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighs the fundamental rights of the parents”.

Male circumcision is not illegal in Germany, but until the court ruling it had inhabited a legal ‘grey area’ which had allowed doctors to carry out the operation. Some medical organisations advise doctors to draw up a contract with their patients before performing the operation to guard against possible legal action.

Circumcision is almost universally practised as both a custom and standard religious observance by Germany's four million Muslims and 200,000 Jews. Critics said the court’s ruling could now make it more difficult to carry out routine religious circumcision.

Dieter Graumann, the President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews denounced the ruling today as “outrageous and insensitive”. He described it as an “unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination” and demanded that parliament intervene to “protect religious freedom”. Aiman Mazyek of the Central Council of Muslims said the ruling was both “inadmissible” and “outrageous.”

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 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 had 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 and concluded that circumcision caused bodily harm and was therefore not justified. It was not clear today whether a higher court could overturn the Cologne court's decision.

The Cologne court also took issue with the idea that circumcision was more hygienic and helped to prevent cancer in men. It concluded: “In central Europe there is no necessity to carry out circumcision as a form of preventive medicine.”

The ruling seems certain to provoke further controversy. Circumcision has been a hotly debated topic among German doctors and lawyers for several years. Muslim groups have complained about being discriminated against by critics of circumcision.

In 2006 a Turkish pensioner from Düsseldorf was fined by a court for carrying out circumcisions within the city’s Turkish community. The court overruled his objection that he was regarded as a bone fide practitioner of circumcision in Turkey.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
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
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

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape