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The German government has backed new legislation aimed at ending a legal dispute over the religious tradition of circumcision.

The cabinet has announced support for proposals that would explicitly allow the practice.

Earlier this year, a regional court ruled that circumcision of newborn boys amounted to assault, prompting protests from Jewish and Muslim organizations.

It also raised fears among some of a resurgence in anti-Semitism in Germany.

The new law will make circumcision explicitly legal, as long as it is carried out by trained experts, and parents are informed of any medical risks.

Many people argue that these conditions are probably already met by the communities involved.

The row over circumcision began in June when a court in Cologne said that the ritual circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy, in accordance with his parents’ faith, had caused the child bodily harm.

The case came to court after a doctor carried out the circumcision, and it led to medical complications.

The German Medical Association then told doctors across the country to stop performing the procedure – thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in the country every year.

European Jewish and Muslim groups joined forces to contest the ruling, which they said was “an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights”.

Some rabbis have continued to conduct circumcisions despite the uncertainty caused by the ruling.

Rabbi David Goldberg said: “I continue to circumcise because religion is more important than everything else. For me God is all important – more important than a court.”

However, he admitted the legal limbo had caused him a “sense of anxiety”.

And his wife said their son had suddenly been the subject of unpleasant questioning from other children at school.

Jewish leaders say the row has brought anti-Semitism back to the surface in Germany.

The ruling also renewed debate over the practice in the US, one of the countries where circumcision is most common.

In July, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the government should try to establish “legal certainty” on the issue.

The proposed legislation is expected to do just that.

The German parliament is expected to pass the law before the end of the year.


Jewish and Muslim groups living in Europe have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys on religious grounds after a German regional court ruled it amounted to bodily harm.

A joint statement says the practice is fundamental to their faiths and calls for it to be awarded legal protection.

The ruling by the Cologne court – also criticized by the Israeli parliament – does not apply to the whole of Germany.

But Germany’s Medical Association told doctors not to perform circumcisions.

Thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in Germany every year.

Jewish and Muslim groups living in Europe have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys

Jewish and Muslim groups living in Europe have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys

The unusual joint statement was signed by leaders of groups including the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Association, Germany’s Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and the Islamic Centre Brussels.

“We consider this to be an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights,” it said.

“Circumcision is an ancient ritual that is fundamental to our individual faiths and we protest in the strongest possible terms against this court ruling.

“To that end we will vigorously defend our right to maintain our mutual tradition and call on the German parliament and all political parties to intervene in overruling this decision as a matter of urgency.”

The leaders also met members of the European parliament and the Bundestag to express their anger and insist that the German parliament establish clear legal protections for the rite.

The German government is clearly uneasy about the ruling, particularly after accusations that it was inappropriate for the country of the Holocaust to outlaw a fundamental ritual of Judaism.

The ruling by the Cologne court followed a legal case involving a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.

The court said that a child’s right to physical integrity trumped religious and parental rights.

The doctor involved in the case was acquitted and the ruling was not binding. However, critics fear it could set a precedent that could be followed by other German courts.