Angela Merkel
The German Chancellor Reuters

On Friday, the German government promised to overturn a court ban on circumcision.

It is absolutely clear to the federal government that we want Jewish, we want Muslim religious life in Germany. Circumcisions carried out in a responsible way must not be subject to prosecution in this country, said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Agence France-Presse.

The controversy began last month, when a Cologne-area regional court ruled that circumcision was a criminal act. The decision was made after one circumcision -- performed by a licensed medical doctor and approved by Muslim parents -- resulted in heavy bleeding. The doctor was charged with causing harm, though he was later acquitted.

The judge opined that going forward, the right of a child to keep his physical integrity trumps the rights of parents to practice freedom of religion.

The ruling -- which only affected the Cologne region -- sparked outrage across the country and the world, with Jewish and Muslim activists arguing that it was discriminatory.

So the federal government acted quickly to quell the indignation.

It is clear this cannot be put on the back burner. Freedom to practice religion is a cherished legal principle, said Seibert.