German verdict to delay circumcision, not ban it, jurist says
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
PARIS (Reuters) - A widely criticized German court verdict on religious circumcision this week aims only to delay the act, not ban it, and is not directed against any faith, a jurist with a leading role in the legal debate said on Friday.
The operation does serious bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it, said Holm Putzke, law professor at Passau University in southern Germany.
Using arguments Putzke has published in recent years, a court in the western city of Cologne ruled on Tuesday that the circumcision there of a Muslim boy who suffered post-operative bleeding had violated a German law against causing bodily harm.
Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders in Germany denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom. Even Germany's foreign minister spoke out, saying such faith traditions must be allowed in a tolerant modern society.
"I can understand that this verdict has irritated people around the world, but this irritation can be resolved if people look at the reasons for it," Putzke told Reuters by telephone.
"Nobody wants to ban religious circumcision in Islam and Judaism, not at all," he said. "It should just be decided by those who undergo it."
Some German media initially reported the verdict applied only to Jews, which may have added to the emotion of some first reactions, he said. Suggesting opposition to circumcision was aimed against Jews was dishonest, he said.
Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews. Continued...