The German lower house of parliament passed a resolution Thursday to protect the rights of Muslim and Jewish parents to have their sons circumcised, after a German court banned the practice in a ruling on June 26, drawing severe criticism from the religious groups.
A judge at a court in Cologne ruled last month that circumcision of minors amounted to criminal bodily harm as it went against a child's interests by inflicting physical alteration of the body by people who determined the child's religious affiliation.
The court, which took action on a case, alerted by a doctor who treated a Muslim boy for bleeding following circumcision, emphasized that the ruling didn't ban circumcision, but required families to wait until their sons were old enough to decide for themselves.
European rabbis, outraged over the ruling perceived as an infringement of religious freedom, had slammed it as the latest in the string of prejudiced European laws against non-Christians, by which Switzerland banned building of minarets, France and Belgium banned veils in public and the Netherlands attempted to ban Halal and kosher meat.
German medical practitioners also expressed concern over the ban saying that it could encourage unauthorized and untrained people performing illegal circumcisions leading to health risks.
The resolution, which was passed after major political parties criticized the ruling, has promised a new law to clarify that families or doctors will not be penalized for carrying out the procedure. However, as of now, the resolution is not legally binding.
The German lawmakers said circumcision was of great religious significance for Jews and Muslims and noted that the court ruling had deeply unsettled these religious communities.
Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany. Circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims, the resolution stated.
An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution, while the Left party opposed it, saying that infants could undergo a symbolic circumcision and postpone the actual procedure to a later stage, which would accommodate the argument that people need to have a say on their own circumcision.
The swiftness of the political action against the court ruling highlights the sensitivity of the issue, in a country still haunted by the memories of the Nazi era and the Holocaust.
The German ambassador to Israel, Andreas Michaelis, had earlier said, it's clear that the ruling prohibiting circumcision is more sensitive in Germany because of the Holocaust, adding that the government was working towards reaching a resolution.
At a closed meeting of Christian Democrats (CDU), German Chancellor Angela Merkel had warned that Germany could become a laughing stock for being the only country in the world where Jews cannot practise their rituals, if it fails to overturn the court ban on circumcision.
The ruling had sparked a heated debate in Germany and the rest of the world, especially Europe, over religious freedom and the irreversible practice of circumcision which is performed during infancy or childhood.