When a German court outlawed the circumcision of male children for religious reasons on Tuesday, the decision elicited angry responses from leaders of the Muslim and Jewish faiths on the grounds that the ruling violated basic tenets of religious freedom.
"Religious leaders are outraged after a German court ruled that circumcision infringes on a child's right to be protected from bodily harm," CBS News reported. "The regional court in Cologne said that circumcision went against the 'fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.' They added that religious freedom would not be curtailed because the child would be able to choose later whether he wanted to have a circumcision."
The case that elicited the ruling involved a 4-year-old Muslim boy who had to be treated for abnormal bleeding following his circumcision. The doctor who performed the circumcision was acquitted of charges — but only because no German law against circumcising boys for religious reasons existed when the procedure was performed.
Reuters detailed the ruling's legal ramifications: "The ruling, which applies only to the Cologne area, said boys who consciously decided to be circumcised could have the operation. No age restriction was given, or any more specific details. Concerned the ruling could be followed in other parts of the country and that it could prevent doctors carrying out circumcisions for fear of prosecution, the Central Council of Jews urged the German parliament 'to provide legal clarity in order to prevent attacks on religious freedom.'"
The BBC's Germany correspondent, Stephen Evans, "says it is unclear what the next legal step will be, but this issue is a moral and political minefield."