German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning that a ban on circumcision will make the country an international butt of jokes.
Deutsche Welle reports Merkel told legislators from her party, "I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world in which Jews cannot practice their rites. Otherwise we would make ourselves a laughing stock."
A regional German court in Cologne ruled last month that "the right of parents to raise their children in a religion does not override the right of a child to bodily integrity." The case involved a doctor who was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after he circumcised a four-year old Muslim boy, resulting in minor complications. The court acquitted the doctor but issued the statement that some fear could now be used as a precedent.
Jews and Muslims reacted strongly to the court decision as reported last week by Digital Journal and have vowed to band together to fight the ruling. The Jerusalem Post reports Jewish leaders say the court's decision could even threaten the continued existence of their community in Germany, a disturbing claim for a country still haunted by the Nazi Holocaust.
Circumcision is still a controversial subject, though Deutsche Welle reports, the World Health Organization says there is strong evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infections in men by about 60 percent as well as the risk from other sexually transmitted diseases like genital herpes and HPV. But the Jerusalem Post says Britain's Secular Medical Forum has sent a strongly worded letter to Merkel, urging her not to give in to pressure from religious groups."We urge you not to let such emotional blackmail persuade you to change the law or criticise the court's decision. As it stands, the court's decision ensures that today's children will be free to grow up to make their own decisions."