A German court ruling that said circumcision violates a child's fundamental right to bodily integrity has drawn criticism from members of both the country's Jewish and Muslim communities, where the practice has historical and religious significance.

A court in the city of Cologne made the ruling after a four-year-old Muslim boy was hospitalized with extensive bleeding following a circumcision.

The decision, however, was not purely concerned with medical health, but also with an individual's right to determine his religious beliefs later in life.

The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision. This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs, the ruling said.

While the decision does not ban the practice, it discourages doctors from performing the operation.

Jewish and Muslim groups expressed opposition to the decision.

This ruling is an outrageous and insensitive measure, said Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Committee of Jews, the Telegraph reported.

Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practiced worldwide for centuries. This religious right is respected in every country in the world.

Ali Demar, chairman of the Islamic Religious Community in Germany, told the Telegraph that the decision is discriminatory and counters efforts to promote integration.

This is a harmless procedure that has thousands of years of tradition and a high symbolic value, he added.