Protesters hold up anti-circumcision signs in Fairfax, Calif., in July. Should the practice be banned in infants? (Eric Risberg/AP)A court in the western city of Cologne has ruled that a child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parental rights.
"The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised," said the court in its ruling.
The case involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a four-year-old that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won't appeal.
The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called the ruling "unprecedented and insensitive," urging the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks."
"Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practised worldwide for centuries. This religious right is respected in every country in the world," said Graumann.
Muslim leaders joined the Jewish groups in their condemnation of the ruling. Ali Demir, chairman of the Islamic Religious Community in Germany, described circumcision as "a harmless procedure that has thousands of years of tradition and a high symbolic value.
"We will end up with circumcision tourism to neighbouring countries," said Demir.
The ruling in Cologne is not binding to the rest of Germany, but it sets a precedent that could be cited in other courts.
Should circumcision of infants for religious reasons be banned? Let us know what you think.
With files from the Associated Press.
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)
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