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German parliament defends faith-based circumcision amid controversy

German lawmakers are trying to overturn a controversial Cologne court ruling banning the circumcision of minors.

Religious circumcision Germany 13 7 2012Enlarge
Jewish and Muslim groups reacted angrily to a German court ruling that classified the religious circumcision of children as a prosecutable offense. (Wikimedia/Wikimedia commons)

BERLIN, July 20, 2012 -- The German parliament on Thursday moved to support the circumcision of young boys for faith-based reasons following a divisive Cologne ruling last month banning the controversial practice, reported Deutsche Welle

The resolution from parliament's lower house, known as a "basic declaration," is essentially symbolic but paves the way for the drafting of a law capable of overturning the Cologne ruling equating the circumcision of minors with physical assault, said DW

More from GlobalPost: Uncircumcised boys are at higher risk of infection, study says

The circumcision issue has provoked a firestorm of debate within Germany, with outraged Muslims and Jews protesting the Cologne ruling as tantamount to religious discrimination -- a charge that carries chilling connotations here. 

Soon anti-circumcision campaigners around the world weighed in, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to strike out against the Cologne decision as one that threatens to bar Jews from their traditions and make Germany a "laughing stock." 

"Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany," BBC News quoted Thursday's resolution as saying. "Circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims." 

More from GlobalPost: German court rules religious circumcision of minors is 'assault'

The Cologne case centered around a four-year-old Muslim boy who suffered medical complications after being circumcised, prompting the German Medical Association to advise doctors to stop performing circumcisions until the law had been clarified, the president of the group, Dr Frank Montgomery, told the BBC earlier this week. About four million Muslims live in Germany, according to Reuters

The Cologne judges ruled against circumcision, arguing that a child's safety is more important to society than religious preferences. 

The Conference of European Rabbis swiftly hit out at the ruling, calling it the "worst attack on Jewish life since the Holocaust," with the group's leader, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, saying the decision means "I don't see a future for Jews in Germany," according to Spiegel Online. Some 120,000 Jews currently live in Germany, said Reuters.  

That said, the Cologne decision does have its supporters.

"Congratulations to Germany for protecting the rights of baby boys!" reads a new petition launched in support of the case. The "Protect children's rights to bodily integrity" petition, which has secured over 1,000 signatures, is trying to "confirm the findings of the Court in Cologne," according to petition author Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/120720/german-parliament-defends-faith-based-circumcision-amid-