|December 12, 2012 -- Berlin -- AJC praised Germany’s
Parliament for approving a law, by a vote of 434 to 100, with 46 abstentions,
to allow circumcision for religious reasons. "The Bundestag action is a
welcome affirmation of Germany’s commitment to religious freedom," said
Deidre Berger, director of AJC's Berlin Office. AJC is the global Jewish
“Circumcision is critical to Jewish and Muslim religious
life,” said Berger. “The German parliament’s action should put to rest
reprehensible allegations that Jewish and Muslim religious upbringing violates
children’s rights and endangers the welfare of children.”
Today's vote followed a prolonged public debate prompted by a
local German court ruling in Cologne in June determining that circumcision is a
criminally liable procedure. While having limited jurisdictional validity, the
Cologne judgment sparked national and global controversy on the legal and
medical consequences of circumcision.
AJC Berlin’s report, “Facts and Myths about the Circumcision
Controversy,” exposed significant distortions, fallacies and prejudices in
claims made by anti-circumcision activists about alleged medical dangers of
male circumcision. Chancellor Angela Merkel quoted directly from the AJC
Berlin report, and mentioned Deidre Berger by name, when speaking about the
circumcision controversy during a recent awards ceremony at the Berlin Jewish
“The notion that Jewish and Muslim males, together with up to
a third of the earth’s male population, have permanent psychological and
physical damage is patently absurd,” said Berger. “The new German legislation
should once and for all consign the arguments of circumcision opponents to the
dustbin of history.”
Berger, however, expressed concern about anti-Semitic and
anti-Muslim sentiments that surfaced during the public debate on circumcision.
“Serious media in Germany quoted individuals who claimed on
the basis of flawed medical evidence that Judaism and Islam are primitive and
archaic religions," said Berger. "Some even outrageously depicted
German Jewish and Muslim citizens as foreign elements in German society.”
Berger praised the German government and parliament for their
efforts “to counter a misguided local court ruling. The legislation is a
victory for religious freedom and tolerance."
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser Schnarrenberger said in recent interviews
that the legislation reaffirms existing practice regarding circumcision.
“If there is something to be learned from the circumcision
debate, it is that religious freedom and diversity are core principles of a
vibrant democracy,” said Berger.