German Court to Jews: Tough Luck
Those seeking to curtail religious freedom around the world got a boost from a German court yesterday when it ruled that religiously-based circumcision does grievous harm to children. According to Agence France Presse:
Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision that the Jewish community said trampled on parents’ religious rights.
The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.
“The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.
The case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who had circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy on his parents’ wishes.
The doctor apparently fouled up the procedure, because the boy had to go to the hospital the next day, “bleeding heavily.” He was then charged with “grievous bodily harm,” and may well have been guilty of that. But the court went a lot farther than that (in fact, it acquitted him because the law wasn’t clear—I guess it’s supposed to be now). Needless to say, German Jews aren’t happy about it:
The decision caused outrage in Germany’s Jewish community.
The head of the Central Committee of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said the ruling was “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination.”
The judgement was an “outrageous and insensitive act. Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practiced worldwide for centuries,” added Graumann.
“This religious right is respected in every country in the world.”
But neither jurists nor politicians in Germany need to worry, according to one expert:
Holm Putzke, a criminal law expert at the University of Passau, told the Financial Times Deutschland that the ruling was “enormously important for doctors because for the first time they have legal certainty.”
“Unlike many politicians, the court has not allowed itself to be scared off by charges of anti-Semitism or religious intolerance,” added Putzke.
Yeah, it’s a good thing that German courts, outlawing a 4000-year-old religious practice associated around the world with Jews, would blow off charges of anti-Semitism. I’m glad to hear we’re all moving on from that yucky Holocaust stuff, with its suggestion that Germans don’t like Jews and so on.
Oh, and religious freedom in the 21st century? You’ve got to be kidding! This is Europe, folks!
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