U.S. Congressmen Express ‘Deep Concern’ Over German Circumcision Ban

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations praised a letter from a bipartisan group of 20 Congress members that expresses concern over recent German decision to effectively ban circumcision on young boys.

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A U.S. bipartisan group of 20 Congressmen sent a letter to the German government expressing “deep concern” over a recent German court decision to effectively ban circumcision on young boys.

Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), authored the letter, which was addressed to Peter Ammon, the German ambassador to the United States.

The District Court of Cologne court recently ruled that the right of a child to be protected from bodily harm took precedence over the interests of the parents or religious freedom. Accordingly, the court said, the circumcision of a minor for non-medical reasons could be considered a criminal act.

The letter by the congressmen called the June 26 court decision “an affront to religious freedom.”

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which represents about 1,000 congregations, praised the letter. Circumcision, it wrote in a press release, is “a fundamental ritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities. Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection of the Jewish community’s existence.”

The letter to the ambassador also “applauded the strong opposition voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle” and called on them to pass legislation that would safeguard religious freedom.

“Europe has experienced a troubling uptick in measures that violate religious freedom by undermining core religious tenets, such as the Dutch initiative to ban ritual slaughter and this new effort in Germany to outlaw ritual circumcision,” Waxman said in a press release. “We must ensure that Germany follows through on its commitment to resolve this controversy.”

Berman added in the release, “A not so veiled assault on tenets central to religious expression is underway in Europe's courts and legislatures. We must let it be known to our friends in a clear and unequivocal voice that such measures are harmful assaults on religious freedom and should not continue.”

The debate over circumcision continues. Some say the practice inflicts physical harm on newborns and causes "irreversible damage."Credit: AP

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